Mr. Manners rings in the new year

Originally Published: January 12, 2011
By DJ Gallo | Page 2

This is the first edition of Mr. Manners in the new year. I trust all of your resolutions are manners and etiquette-related. You can, for example, resolve to lose weight, but what will you have really accomplished if you eat your salads with the improper fork like some kind of troglodyte? Absolutely nothing. You'll just be an uncouth skinny person.

Mr. Manners

Let's get to the mail.

Dear Mr. Manners,
I am a highly touted defensive lineman for the Auburn Tigers. I make a lot of big plays, but people say I'm a dirty player. I just try to play on the edge and whatever happens happens. Is this the wrong approach?
-- Nick F. (Auburn, Ala.)

Dear Naughty Nick,
Yours is a common story. I see it all the time. And it always has the same outcome. The question is if you want this to happen to you:

• You will play in the NFL.

• You will initially get national attention for a dirty play, perhaps like stomping on another player's head.

• You will make Pro Bowls.

• You will get a $100 million contract.

• You will get benched by an orange man for being out of shape.

Some good there, some bad. But your story is written if you stay on your current path.
-- Mr. Manners

Dear Mr. Manners,
I am a football coach and I make every conflict personal. Is this wrong?

Also, I have one follow-up question: Why doesn't your photo show your feet? That is very disappointing.
-- Rex R. (New Jersey)

Dear Rude Rex,
Thank you for your questions. And, yes, making conflicts personal is wrong. First, many conflicts can be avoided completely by using proper manners. But even when unavoidable, manners can help diffuse the situation.

Always try to turn a negative into a compliment. For example, don't say you "hate" your sporting rival; instead, say that you "respect" your rival and that it would "be an honor to defeat them." See the difference? Subtle but powerful.

You can get much of what you want in life just by being complimentary. Take your question about my feet. It's kind of creepy. But think if you had this: "Why doesn't your photo show your feet? I bet you have beautiful feet. Can I touch 'em?"

Well, that would still be creepy, I suppose. But at least you would have complimented me.
-- Mr. Manners

P.S. -- And to answer your question, the reason my feet aren't shown is it is an industry standard to run head shots only. And also, in my case, because my feet are way too hot for a family website.

Dear Mr. Manners,
I recently fired my university's head football coach of three years. The team had improved every year and he developed a dynamic offense, but we just weren't where I wanted the program to be. It was the right decision, but I still felt bad firing him. Is there anything I can do to show him my thanks and appreciation for his hard work -- to the point that he often worked beyond the allowed time limits! -- during his years here?
-- Dave B. (Ann Arbor, Mich.)

Dear Depressed Dave,
Letting someone go is one of the toughest parts of being in charge. I experience this myself quite often. Not a week goes by that I don't have to fire a Mr. Manners intern for infractions ranging from not having my coffee hot enough to making my coffee too hot.

I find the best way to soften the blow and show your appreciation is to give the person you have fired a gift. But not just any gift. Expensive doesn't mean personal and personal is always better. What I do is make a CD of the person's favorite songs. Do you know of a musical artist he likes? When picking songs, try to pick out very inspirational ones -- songs that will raise the person up.

Hope that helps!
-- Mr. Manners

Dear Mr. Manners,
Crazy. Karma is a b****. Gets you every time. It's not good to wish bad on anybody. God sees everything!
-- King J (Wherever Haters Are)

Dear King Karma,
I agree with you. Mostly. Karma is truly powerful. You could even argue that it, and the "Golden Rule," are the basis of manners.

That said, I encourage you to remember that karma is a two-way street. If someone acts poorly towards you, karma can cause something bad to happen to them. True. But reveling in their downfall creates bad karma of your own. Please don't forget this.

I guess one caveat is that if 6 billion people are rooting against one person who has bad karma, all the bad karma generated by the 6 billion may backfire on them and bring the object of their scorn, say … a championship, since 6 billion > 1. That would suck.
-- Mr. Manners

Dear Mr. Manners,
Tom Brady is an ass----.
-- Antonio C. (New Jersey)

Dear Angry Antonio,
I'm not sure if your letter got cut off -- I don't see a question -- but I'll try to address it as best I can.

I understand where you're coming from with your comment (although I don't support such crude language). While those of us who practice the art of manners wish that everyone in the world was equally civil and respectful, that is simply not the case.

There are simply different rules in society for different people. For example, star athletes are allowed to get away with boorish behavior from the first moment they show talent on the field. Outside of the sports world we have the example of supermodels and their "diva"-ish behavior. The term "diva" is given to them by people with manners, as they are really no better than an "ass-----," the term you used for Mr. Brady. They just get away with their behavior due to their looks and style.

Again, this is not fair or right, but it is reality. Mr. Brady falls into this latter category of model and style icon. I encourage you to refer to him from now on as a "diva." Same message, but delivered with more tact.
-- Mr. Manners

DJ Gallo is the founder and sole writer of the sports satire site He also is a regular contributor to ESPN The Magazine and has written for The Onion and Cracked. His first book, "SportsPickle Presents: The View from the Upper Deck," is on sale now.

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