Missouri Coach Gary Pinkel, Who Is Resigning Following A Cancer Diagnosis, Completely Misplayed His Hand
The Guardian- Missouri football coach Gary Pinkel, who supported his African American players’ boycott of team activities backing campus protesters, said Friday that he has been battling non-Hodgkin lymphoma and will resign at the end of the season.
Pinkel, 63, was diagnosed with the form of blood cancer in May and received treatments through the spring, but never made his illness public until the university announced his resignation on Friday. Missouri will play BYU in Kansas City on Saturday night in a game that had already taken on immense significance given his players’ boycott that helped force the resignation of University president Tim Wolfe.
The players announced their boycott on Twitter last Saturday night, saying they would not practice or play until student Jonathan Butler ended a week-long hunger strike. Butler was demanding that Wolfe step down due to a lack of action on a series of racial incidents on campus.
The next day, Pinkel tweeted a photo of nearly the entire team and coaching staff linking arms and said the whole program backed the boycott. Wolfe resigned on Monday and campus chancellor R Bowen Loftin was replaced later in the week.
Pinkel has become a polarizing figure in Missouri this week. Many graduates have criticized him for supporting his players, saying he threw the campus into chaos. He was later scored by the protesters after he told a Kansas City sports radio station that he should not have included a reference to their protest in his tweet.
Pinkel said he had already made the decision to step down on 27, October the day after undergoing a PET scan.
First and foremost, all good thoughts and prayers go out to Gary Pinkel. I can't even imagine dealing with all the normal crap that comes with coaching college football, plus your entire team boycotting a game due to racism, all while privately battling cancer. You can say whatever you want about his actions in the wake of a student protest, but the guy is one tough son of a bitch. His livelihood is the most important thing, and I think I speak for everyone when I say we are all praying for his prolonged health.
With all of that said, he completely mismanaged his cancer diagnosis. I'm not say you should ever "use" your cancer to your benefit, but there are certain situations where it is totally justified. If he was going to make his prognosis public anyway, then why not do it two weeks earlier and save himself a headache of epic proportions? The way I look at it is this, Gary Pinkel basically watched a lit cigarette get dropped in the woods and turn into a full blown forest fire while he had a water bottle in his hand the whole time. He essentially watched his football team go all-in and take the whole pot, and didn't realize he had the Ace Of Spades in his back pocket until he took his pants out of wash the following week. If Gary Pinkel let his resignation become news 10 days earlier the man that hired him likely still has his job right now. Above all else, the football team and their potential refusal to play in a game is what got the President of Missouri fired. If that very same football team was dealing with terrible news about their Head Coach's health then Student 1950 would have had a lot less people concerned, I'll tell you that much. At the very least they would have put their mutiny on the back burner until the end of the season.
Cancer always trumps racism, everyone knows that. You can't fight a battle on two fronts. You have to conquer one at a time. Why not conquer the one that is actually winnable? Gary Pinkel's cancer could potentially be curable, unfortunately racism at the University of Missouri is not, no matter who is in charge. If you're a football player at Mizzou, how could you possibly rationalize showing support for some rich kid who is intentionally starving himself because of a poop swastika over your coach that just got diagnosed with the one of the most debilitating diseases known to man? You can't. I applaud Pinkel's refusal to make it about himself during such a volatile time, but with the added stress he was undoubtedly experiencing from circumstances he had nothing to do with, maybe he should have. He might have saved a couple of jobs in the process. The guy had to support his players, and in turn not defend his President, because he was in between a rock and a hard place, but the sympathy one gets from fighting cancer can move mountains. In this case, I think the never-ending battle against racism could have waited. After all, a man's health was at risk.
I'm not going to say it, but I will let Larry David do it for me. A "non-Hodgkins lymphoma" kinda sounds like...