Tim Green, the former Atlanta Falcon turned broadcaster and author, examines the subject of "why some teams always win and others always lose" in his new book, "The Dark Side of the Game."
Green compared an NFL team to a $150 million mansion, although $200 million is probably a more accurate figure these days.
He said the owner of the mansion hires a butler and a cook, and he compares them to a general manager and a coach.
"Each of these has a vital role in serving up a football season. A delicate balance exists among these men that can ruin everything if it's upset," he writes.
He said that San Francisco 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr. will walk through the kitchen, "stick his finger in George Seifert's soup, and give his opinion that it might need more salt. DeBartolo would never just pick up the shaker and start adding salt on his own. Some owners would do that, though, and they're always the ones that spoil the broth."
He said that when he was playing for the Falcons, "Ken Herock, the personnel director, was buying ingredients for meatloaf, and Jerry Glanville, the coach, was trying desperately to make a pizza."
Glanville is gone now and June Jones is the Falcons' coach, but not much has changed.
The coach, GM and owner still aren't on the same page.
To understand that is to understand the Jeff George fiasco.
The popular view of George's sideline tirade after he was benched three weeks ago is that George was showing again he's a spoiled, immature player who's never going to grow up.
But the whole story is much more complicated. It reflects on the organization, and it starts at the top with owner Rankin Smith and his son, president Taylor Smith.
There were 26 teams when the leagues merged in 1970. Only six of them have never made the Super Bowl, and only three -- the Falcons, Saints and Cardinals -- have never even made the conference championship game.
As Green writes: "Essentially, there is one man responsible for a winning team. He is the owner. He has control over the house. He hires the cook, the butler and every servant in between. If they all stink, whose fault is that?"
Taylor Smith doesn't like George, but instead of trading him in the off-season, he signed him to a one-year deal after a long holdout. The deal contained a clause that the Falcons couldn't tag George as the team's transition player. That made it was obvious he was leaving at the end of the year.
When the team started 0-2, George had suspicions that Taylor Smith was putting pressure on Jones to bench him.
When George got the hook against the Philadelphia Eagles after an interception followed 11 straight completions, he believed Jones was caving in to pressure from the owner and fans, who liked Bobby Hebert, so he blew up.
The fallout is that Jones and Herock are likely to be fired and the Falcons will start over. They'll probably try to bring in a name coach -- the New York Giants' Dan Reeves is being mentioned -- but not much will change as long as the Smiths keep running the team the way they do.
One of George's parting shots at management was: "I don't think they know what they're doing."
He got that right.
Looking for work
Where will George go when his suspension ends and he's waived?
The popular choice is the Oakland Raiders because of his college ties to coach Mike White. But George knows White may not last long in Oakland and may decide to pass on that possibility.
Since he'll be put on waivers, a team could claim him, but that's unlikely because he'd be a free agent at the end of the year.
The team that signs him will want a long-term deal.
After turning down $30 million from the Seattle Seahawks, George might wait until the end of the year so he has more options.
"The first seven years of my career haven't gone the way I wanted and I've probably got just one more chance to make it right," he said. "It's better for me to sit back and think this out
than act in haste."
If George waits and Kansas City doesn't make the Super Bowl with Steve Bono, the Chiefs might be an intriguing choice. Marty Schottenheimer might not be thrilled at the thought of bringing in George, but the fans are getting impatient for a championship.
Are the 49ers and Packers two ships passing in the night?
We may find out Monday night when the clubs meet in what could be a watershed game.
It could be the 49ers' most significant regular-season game since 1981, when they went into Pittsburgh in the ninth game of the year and beat the 5-3 Steelers, 17-14.
Like the 49ers now, the Steelers were a year removed from a Super Bowl victory and starting to show the age that ended their dynasty. The win in Pittsburgh showed the 49ers were for real, and they went on to win their first Super Bowl.
If the Packers, who beat the 49ers in the playoffs last January, do it again, it could be a sign that they have surpassed the 49ers.
But don't count the 49ers out. They went into Dallas last season as 10-point underdogs and with Elvis Grbac at quarterback, then routed the Cowboys, 38-20.