NFL: Marinelli heats up at reporter
Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 23, 2008
By Larry Lage
ALLEN PARK, Mich. ó Rod Marinelli was as angry publicly on Monday as he’s been in three seasons as coach of the Detroit Lions.
Leading the NFL’s first 0-15 team didn’t do it.
A question from a columnist did.
Detroit News columnist Rob Parker asked Marinelli if he wished his daughter married a better defensive coordinator, taking a shot at his son-in-law Joe Barry, after Sunday’s 42-7 loss to New Orleans.
Marinelli didn’t answer the question during his news conference, saying it wasn’t the right stage for a response, but lashed out after thinking about the exchange.
“Anytime you attack my daughter, I’ve got a problem with that …” Marinelli said. “It was premeditated. I think there’s something wrong with that.”
Did it cross the line?
“Big time,” Marinelli said.
Parker attempted to defuse the situation.
“I apologize to Rod and his family,” Parker said in a telephone interview after Marinelli’s comments were relayed to him. “It was never my intent to hurt anyone. It was just to lighten the moment.
“I wish Rod and his family a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.”
The Lions will close the schedule at Green Bay, where they haven’t won since 1991, hoping to avoid sealing a perfectly imperfect season.
Parker, who has regularly asked Marinelli about the possibility of firing Barry, tried to explain his relationship with Marinelli in a column published Monday.
“On the surface, you might think it’s adversarial,” Parker wrote. “He hates me and I hate him. In reality, it’s one built on mutual respect.
“Sunday, with my attempt at humor, I was trying to get Marinelli to lighten up, have some fun after a rough day,” Parker added. “Who knows, Marinelli, a straight shooter who never goes off script, might actually have given us a funny quote. He didn’t. My attempt failed.”
It also failed to change Marinelli’s perspective or willingness to accept Parker’s published apology.
“I didn’t read it. I was told a little bit about it,” Marinelli said. “I don’t accept anything.”
Marinelli said he assumed his daughter and Barry heard about the question, but said he didn’t talk to them about it.
The Vietnam veteran has remained calm as he answered questions after each of his 37 losses since he became a head coach for the first time in 2006, and he refused to let Parker’s question rattle him when it was asked.
“There was intent to maybe stir me up, which is never going to happen,” he said. “I can shoulder anything you bring ó easy.”
Parker’s question, a follow-up to his queries about whether Marinelli could fairly evaluate Barry, generated considerable buzz on Fox’s postgame show Sunday and later on sports talk shows and the Internet.
“You’re a disgrace to your profession, my friend,” Fox analyst Terry Bradshaw said on the air about Parker. “You’re a total idiot.”