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Monday, January 27, 2020

Portrait of a Bravo

Peter King interviews recently retired Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator Dean Pees:
Pees, 70, retired last week after finishing his 47th year of coaching at the high school, college and NFL level. It’s one of the most interesting careers in coaching history. Not only because he got to coach under two legends, Nick Saban and Bill Belichick, but he also got to coach under two coaches he coached as players—John Harbaugh (Miami of Ohio, then the Ravens) and Mike Vrabel (the Patriots, then the Titans). Thirteen jobs in 47 years, and . . .

“I’ve never applied for a job. I never got fired from a job. I never really sought another job. I never said, ‘I’m going to climb the ladder.’ I just did the job I had at the time, did the best I could. And I was lucky: I loved every job I had.”

Starting in Bloomingdale, Ohio (pop: 754), at little Elmwood High School.

“I played in a winter basketball league in [northwest] Ohio after college, when I met the principal at Elmwood High School. I was running a men’s clothing store in Bowling Green, Ohio. They had some openings on the football staff at Elmwood and he asked me if I wanted to coach. I said sure. I was hired to coach the secondary and be the track coach. But at our first meeting, the head coach made me the defensive coordinator. I did that two years, then became the head coach for four. Then I went to Findlay College as defensive coordinator and head track coach in 1979. After my first year, I went to Miami of Ohio to learn about their defense—which was the same defense we ran—from their coordinator, Tim Rose. In 1983, he got the head job there and hired me to be his defensive coordinator. Stayed there four years, and then Elliott Uzelac, the coach at Navy, called and hired me to coach the secondary. He got my name from Lloyd Carr, who I’d done some clinics with.

“After the ’89 season, Nick Saban called me. He was the secondary coach with the Oilers then, but he’d just been hired as the Toledo coach. He asked me to fly down to Houston, just to talk. He got my name from [longtime Navy assistant] Steve Belichick. So I flew down, and he offered me the defensive coordinator job at Toledo. Loved working with Nick—so good to me and my family. He left to coach with Bill [Belichick] and the Browns after one year, but Gary Pinkell was hired by Toledo and he kept the staff. I stayed three more years. After signing day [in 1994], Gary said to me one day, ‘[Notre Dame coach] Lou Holtz is on the phone. He’s gonna offer you a job.’ I picked up the phone, and Lou offered me the linebacker job. Then he said, ‘I hate to ask you this, but can you be here this afternoon?’ I said sure, I’ll call my wife on the way. So I was at Notre Dame one year. Then Nick takes the Michigan State job, and he hires me as his defensive coordinator. I was there from ‘95 to ’97. Kent State fires their coach after the ’97 season, and their AD flies up to meet me. We have breakfast, and I guess you could call that an interview, but it basically was a conversation—he just wanted to get to know me. He offered me the job over the phone.

“I’m at Kent six years. One day I had a question about defense for Bill Belichick, and I called him. He called me back and said, ‘I’m losing a linebacker coach. Ever thought about leaving college?’ We met at the scouting combine. He offered me the linebacker job. Great experience, with [Tedy] Bruschi, [Willie] McGinest, [Mike] Vrabel. In 2006, he made me the coordinator. Just a great experience, to see how the very best do it. But after four years as the coordinator, I needed a break. I made a smooth exit from New England. Then John Harbaugh offered me the linebacker job in Baltimore, which is what I needed at the time. How great that was, coaching Ray Lewis. Then John named me the coordinator in 2012. After ’16, I’m thinking of retiring. John said, ‘How about one more year?’ But after the ’17 season, that was it. I retired.

“So we [Pees and wife Melody] went up to our lake house in Michigan. It’s a Thursday night in January. We went out to dinner with our financial adviser, and we’re figuring out the NFL pension and how we’re going to live. Melody was planning this river cruise in Europe. The next morning, the phone rang. I said, ‘Hi Mike,’ and she knew. Mike Vrabel. He’d just gotten the Tennessee head-coaching job. He needed someone with experience to run the defense. He wanted me to be the coordinator.”

Pees’ only son, Matt Pees, was a high school coach in Denver. Dean Pees might have taken the Titans job anyway, but he asked Vrabel if he could bring Matt as defensive quality control coach. Vrabel checked, called the next day to say Matt was welcome on the staff, and the deal got done. Father and son coached together in 2018 and 2019.

“Of course losing at Kansas City was disappointing. But winning at New England and winning at Baltimore in the playoffs, against two coaches I have so much respect for, was an incredible way to go out. That goal-line stand in the second quarter at New England is a career highlight. But this time, I’m done coaching. Forty-seven years is enough. Not saying I’d never do some other job in football, but not coaching.

“It’s been a great career. Very, very blessed. My wife’s been fantastic. My kids have been fantastic—their whole lives, they just take off one jersey and put on another. I’m looking at my grandson right now—he’s 8, and he’s wearing a Titans cap.

“People ask me, ‘What’s your favorite place you coached?’ All of ‘em. They ask, ‘Who’s your favorite player?’ All of ‘em.

“In this football business, who can say they never got fired? Who can say they loved every job they had? For 47 years!”
That is the very quintessence of Bravo. Competent, hard-working, loyal, and valued by every Alpha he encountered. Limited ambition combined with incredible success. This is why it is so valuable for a man to know and understand his place in the hierarchy. Hierarchical fit is one of the key components of long-term success.

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59 Comments:

Blogger Dos Voltz January 27, 2020 8:40 AM  

Interesting story, what a great guy! He was at Miami of Ohio when I was a student there. My best friend and roommate played on that team - back then we were REDSKINS. (Now they're lame-o Redhawks).

Blogger David Ray Milton January 27, 2020 8:47 AM  

Until I read your SSH, I never understood that all of my best friends through life have been bravos. They are truly fantastic people. If you show appreciation and loyalty to them they will move mountains to help you out.

Blogger theartistformerlyknownasgeorge January 27, 2020 8:57 AM  

Except he didn't know his place in the hierarchy.

He just did his duty.

The hierarchy happens organicly by everyone just doing the same. You can't get it by using the analytical tools that describe it after it alreafy exists.

Trying to do so is what sends so many that recognize the hierarchy into a tail spin.

Blogger tuberman January 27, 2020 8:59 AM  

Very nice career.

Blogger Doktor Jeep January 27, 2020 10:05 AM  

It was Owen I think who I first heard the term "bravo". And I think he was right. At this point I consider the term "beta simp" to be incorrect. I don't know from where on the SSH guys are sending money to e-thots or marrying single mothers. Probably omegas. The few that can afford it perhaps.
Maybe for many the information is incomplete and their perception of SSH is binary. It's only alpha who is on top and the winner who gets the girls or complete beta loser. Not knowing there are at least 5 layers between alpha and loser.

Blogger VD January 27, 2020 10:06 AM  

The hierarchy happens organicly by everyone just doing the same. You can't get it by using the analytical tools that describe it after it alreafy exists.

Shut up, gamma. You have no idea what you're talking about.

Blogger J Van Stry January 27, 2020 10:13 AM  

Loyalty is one of those things that the Gammas just don't get. When they end up in positions of power, they will actually punish those trying to be loyal to them.
So morale plummets and the good workers leave. Seen it in the tech industry way too many times. It's another reason NOT to hire gammas.

Blogger RobertDWood January 27, 2020 10:27 AM  

"The hierarchy happens organicly by everyone just doing the same. You can't get it by using the analytical tools that describe it after it alreafy exists."

This has to be a troll post. You can read the akshually lisp in the post!!


The bit about him looking out for his son and getting him the job in Tennessee. Good fathering? Nepotism doesn't seem good except for when it works.

Blogger Scott January 27, 2020 10:30 AM  

The corona virus will cull you soon. Try to die better than you've lived.

Blogger Rek. January 27, 2020 10:36 AM  

Your closing paragraph has me confused about the Delta/Bravo difference.

Deltas are competent, hard-working, loyal to their mission (Bravos to their alpha?), may sometimes lack the respect they need to thrive from alphas. Deltas are not very ambitious and can be quite successful if part of the right organization.

Is the difference that alphas like bravos (personality/mindset) and wanna include them in their success. On the other hand they dont really care about deltas. Or are bravos just better deltas (more competent,...). The latter doesnt really make sense as deltas and bravos are 2 different species.

??

Blogger WillBound January 27, 2020 10:42 AM  

What's a Bravo? Is it the same as a Beta?

Blogger KPKinSunnyPhiladelphia January 27, 2020 10:58 AM  

For anyone who aspires to have a career as a coach at the collegiate or professional level, this should be required reading.

Very very few coaches stay at one place for an extended period of time; for most, it is a nomadic life not just in your first decade or so until you get settled, but for 25, 30, or 40 years.

Yes, it is a tale about one's place in the hierarchy, but it's also about doing the job you have right then, whether Alpha or Delta. Whether you want to "climb the ladder" or not, you have to have that willingness to do THAT job, right THEN, even if your ambition is grandiose or non-existent.

I am sure that's why Pees got call after call from the likes of Saban, Belichick, Harbaugh, and Vrabel. They saw in him the same dedication, intelligence, and character that they themselves had, ambition notwithstanding. I bet Pees never had to be "managed" and was probably a man of fortitude and a leader in his specific realm. Their trust in him was no doubt complete.

In that sense, they were less boss and subordinate, but more brothers/comrades in the discipline.

Blogger stevo January 27, 2020 11:15 AM  

There's a doc on Netflix called Shelby American. About the race car guy Carroll Shelby. It should be called Portrait of an Alpha. Good show.

Blogger Silent Draco January 27, 2020 11:28 AM  

A Bravo knows his position, a lieutenant to his Alpha, especially in situations. Pees was a collegiate head coach, but kept focus on what his superiors and players needed from him.

A capable, confident, and humble man, valued by his peers. Good example for us.

Blogger Balkan Yankee January 27, 2020 11:30 AM  

Started coaching at 23.

Retired from coaching at 70.

SSH aside, Pees loved his calling.

And his calling loved him back.

Blogger Quicksilver January 27, 2020 12:15 PM  

Hard to tell the difference between delta and bravo here. Do deltas evolve into Bravos as they assume mid leadership roles? Can a bravo drop down to a delta spot if joining a larger group or organisation where he is no longer the right hand man?

Blogger Patrick Kelly January 27, 2020 12:24 PM  

"Except he didn't know his place in the hierarchy.

He just did his duty."

He knew his place, but he would didn't necessarily understand or describe it like the structured SSH discussed here.

If you tried to explain it to him I think he would likely respond "WTF? I ain't got time for that, I got work to do..." It's not a concern on his radar.

Blogger Hoyabembe January 27, 2020 12:32 PM  

Many of the alphas I encounter seem to want to fight me. It can get uncomfortable when in a closed environment, but also funny.

Blogger Scott January 27, 2020 12:59 PM  

That's why SSH is fractal. Omegas and Gammas are frequently the "Alpha" in D&D groups - someone needs to be the DM.

Vox is pointing to the life and career of a man who naturally found himself in the Bravo role wherever he went.

Situational vs Tempermental.

Blogger lowercaseb January 27, 2020 1:20 PM  

From what I understand, the big difference between Deltas and Bravos is the leadership ability. Bravos are comfortable leading and flourish when working under a good Alpha, whereas Deltas are more comfortable following.

Blogger BassmanCO January 27, 2020 1:25 PM  

Hoyabembe wrote:Many of the alphas I encounter seem to want to fight me. It can get uncomfortable when in a closed environment, but also funny.

Then maybe you're just a dick. I don't suppose that ever occurred to you.

Blogger J Van Stry January 27, 2020 1:31 PM  

@16 - The difference between Deltas and Bravos (IMHO) is that Bravos can lead others, they can take charge, give orders, delegate, etc. They can easily fill in for the Alpha when they're not there, and the Alpha trusts them completely.

Deltas are not leaders. They're worker bees, and have no interest in the path of promotion that would put them in charge of others. They can be exceptional at their jobs, and they usually understand loyalty as well. But they just don't want to lead.

I have a friend like that. 20 years with the same company, one of their best employees. They tried to make him a VP -twice-. He had no desire to lead people or a department. He just wanted to do his job, which he loved.

Blogger David Ray Milton January 27, 2020 1:59 PM  

Bravos have leadership abilities whereas deltas do not as much. The bravo needs an alpha to give his leadership direction. The bravo is charismatic and the delta is not.

Blogger Scott January 27, 2020 2:04 PM  

Bravo = second in command. Lieutenant, Sergeant, middle management.

Think Goose from Top Gun.

Beta had too much baggage from the PUA crowd. Vox made his own term to describe Bravos.

Blogger 357Delta January 27, 2020 2:15 PM  

The lines between a high delta and low bravo can easily blur, and remember ones position change depending on situation.

He's more bravo than delta late in his career because the alpha could temporarily turn over control if necessary,and trust him to be a good steward until his return.

A delta might wilt under such responsibility, but a bravo can handle it for a bit, but doesn't crave it.

Blogger Uncle Maffoo January 27, 2020 2:41 PM  

Because you're a gamma who won't shut up and stop bothering them.

Blogger Uncle Maffoo January 27, 2020 2:45 PM  

So Vox, when can we expect the Bravo Voxiversity video?

Blogger Kraemer January 27, 2020 2:45 PM  

I don't think there's a hard line between Delta and Bravo. A bravo can easily act Delta when there's nobody under him. However, a delta would probably struggle with leading others.

Blogger James Dixon January 27, 2020 2:53 PM  

> That is the very quintessence of Bravo. Competent, hard-working, loyal, and valued by every Alpha he encountered.

As I've noted in the past, that's always the role I've tried to fill. I've never wanted to be the leadership guy. I'm much better suited to the Bravo role. It's the place I fit in the hierarchy, and I've been halfway good at it.

> A delta might wilt under such responsibility, but a bravo can handle it for a bit, but doesn't crave it.

Been there, done that. You have it exactly right.

Blogger Balkan Yankee January 27, 2020 2:54 PM  

@24: "middle management."

A situational role in which one must lead, follow, and get the hell out of the way all at the same time.

Blogger Manuel January 27, 2020 3:19 PM  

It's all fractal. No doubt at home with family he was the Alpha.
The Alpha asks his Bravos for input and even lets them run the ship. The delta needs to be told what to do, he can do it very well, but needs guidance and direct orders.

Blogger Akulkis January 27, 2020 3:30 PM  

"Many of the alphas I encounter seem to want to fight me. It can get uncomfortable when in a closed environment, but also funny."

So what is it about your behavior and what you say which instigates such a reaction by the leaders of every group you are a part of?

Blogger Hoyabembe January 27, 2020 3:32 PM  

Everyone is such a tough guy genius expert on everything in these comments. Maybe Vox is right to want to shut them down.

Blogger doctrev January 27, 2020 3:45 PM  

I like the new Bravo term- it works to differentiate the SSH from the PUA dichotomy. I imagine that bravos can direct an organization, if they must, often with a great degree of skill. But they lack the ambition and social presence of an alpha: realizing this, most bravos will play a subordinate role rather than constantly fight for dominance over their sphere.

Without an alpha, most organizations are never going to become great instead of just good. But a lack of bravos means an overwhelmed alpha, before prompt collapse of the entire operation. Worth thinking about.

Blogger BassmanCO January 27, 2020 3:55 PM  

Hoyabembe wrote:Everyone is such a tough guy genius expert on everything in these comments. Maybe Vox is right to want to shut them down.

When you say "Every Alpha hates me," whether or not it is gamma posturing...it sounds like gamma posturing. If you can't understand this and why more than one person here responded to it that way, maybe you need to sit down, shut up and listen more. I know I did when I started here and still don't comment that often.

Blogger David Ray Milton January 27, 2020 3:58 PM  

@Hoyabembe

You can see it in your comments. You just appealed to the top of the hierarchy because people are picking on you.

“Umm, can you beat him up for me, please?”

Beat it, nerd.

Blogger Balkan Yankee January 27, 2020 4:17 PM  

@33: "Many of the alphas I encounter seem to want to fight me."

Obvious. Self. Fulfilling. Prophecy. Is. Obvious.

hahahahahahahahaha.

Blogger Hoyabembe January 27, 2020 4:53 PM  

I'm 6'4 230 lb man. I lift weights and exercise regularly. I don't let people who aren't actually in charge dominate me, thus the friction. Happy? Who's the nerd now I wonder.

Blogger Scott January 27, 2020 5:13 PM  

Good point.

Blogger Akulkis January 27, 2020 5:16 PM  

Hoyabembe, dude, you need to do some serious self-inspection, followed by self-criticism, followed by serious changes in your attitude, your communication style, and more than likely, your complete lifestyle. More athletics, less internet.

You need to be part of a regular competitive environment, in which skill level and success are measurable in tangible, concrete, indisputable ways, even if it's just bowling.

Why?

Because you obviously don't understand how to receive and respond to constructive criticism.

In my case, I didn't even criticize you. I merely asked you for your opinion about what was the cause of the negative responses you get (in contrast to what other people do around these same leaders who don't provoke the same responses you're getting).

And what did you do? "Why's everybody picking on meeeeeeee???"

Get a grip, dude.

Nobody's gonna fix you, except for you.

You're complaining about a problem which is obviously attached to you, not the people you're complaining about, and yet you refuse to even entertain the possibility that it's you, not them.

Blogger Akulkis January 27, 2020 5:24 PM  

"I'm 6'4 230 lb man. I lift weights and exercise regularly."

Physical size doesn't mean anything. Apparently lifting weights and being of tall stature hasn't precluded you from also being a snowflake.

George Patton was short, and had a painfully squeaky voice.

When asked to follow, he followed.
When tasked with leadership, he lead.

Not a single one of the thousands who knew him well enough to know ever accused him of being a whiner.


"I don't let people who aren't actually in charge dominate me, thus the friction. Happy? Who's the nerd now I wonder."

I thought you said alphas don't like you.
The person in charge is the alpha. The people not in charge are not the alphas.

Clueless commenter is clueless.

Blogger David Ray Milton January 27, 2020 5:29 PM  

@Houabembe gay boy

First rule of the anonymous internet, no one cares how big you say you are.

And if you are that big, and the alphas are constantly trying to fight you, as you say, then you are a pussy... nerd.

Blogger Rek. January 27, 2020 5:39 PM  

You do you. Nobody cares.

Blogger BassmanCO January 27, 2020 5:46 PM  

Hoyabembe wrote:I'm 6'4 230 lb man. I lift weights and exercise regularly. I don't let people who aren't actually in charge dominate me, thus the friction. Happy? Who's the nerd now I wonder.

I'm 6'1", 225 lbs, lift weights and do combat martial arts. Guess what? No one gives a shit. And again, we can tell from your posturing that you're a d-bag. Get over yourself.

Blogger JRH, esq. January 27, 2020 5:57 PM  

That sound right there? That's the sound of a tallywhacker being slapped upside the yardstick. Best respect that, mister!

Blogger RobertDWood January 27, 2020 6:33 PM  

The train is fine.

Blogger Garuna January 27, 2020 6:46 PM  

Except he didn't know his place in the hierarchy.

Anyone who's ever had friends knows their place in the hierarchy.

Blogger Ransom Smith January 27, 2020 6:53 PM  

Dick LeBeau might be a bravo as well.
Never the main man. But his work on defense made the Stealers.

Blogger Bobiojimbo January 27, 2020 6:54 PM  

Describes the guy I work under. Thank you for helping me place him.

Blogger VD January 27, 2020 7:35 PM  

I'm 6'4 230 lb man. I lift weights and exercise regularly. I don't let people who aren't actually in charge dominate me, thus the friction. Happy? Who's the nerd now I wonder.

Given that you've already made everyone here dislike you, the fact that people dislike you in real life is hardly a surprise. Behavioral patterns are not necessarily based on size. If your description is to be trusted, you have a gamma mindset in an alpha's body.

Blogger Harsh January 27, 2020 7:49 PM  

We're all impressed, Alpha.

Blogger ScottC January 27, 2020 7:52 PM  

Shut up, gamma. You have no idea what you're talking about.

He sounds crazy, not passive-aggressive or pompous. That was a word salad.

Blogger Gettimothy January 27, 2020 8:07 PM  

Bravo for the 'Bravo' over 'Beta'

Floats the prospect of 'Dauntless' over 'Delta'.

Blogger Kiwi January 27, 2020 8:35 PM  

Sounds like we've got ourselves a plastic Alpha. Always check the label.

ahhhahahahahhaha

Blogger Newscaper312 January 27, 2020 9:13 PM  

Bravo breaks the Greek letter labeling scheme of the SSH, but I suppose Beta has been tainted by the simplistic PUA model equating Beta with Loser.
Humans are not gorillas, lions or cattle.

Blogger VFM #7634 January 27, 2020 10:40 PM  

What's a Bravo? Is it the same as a Beta?

It used to be the Beta rank. But since that clashed with the term "beta male", it was replaced with Bravo. Beta males are either Deltas or Gammas, but Bravo is a lesser alpha rather than a beta. If that makes sense.

So what is it about your behavior and what you say which instigates such a reaction by the leaders of every group you are a part of?

I think he was fantasizing about being declared a Sigma by the other commenters here.

Blogger Reader January 27, 2020 10:41 PM  

What is the deal with the filthy grabbler, Bloomberg? Every time I turn on the radio in the car, there's a Bloomberg for President ad. What's that hand-rubbing little hat up to? He has stated he wants to turn Texas blue. Does he really think he can be the Yankee leftist billionaire answer to Trump?

Blogger Son of John January 28, 2020 2:41 AM  

I am 6'8 240 pound dog. I don't like the hoya guy. probably a 6'4 240 pound woman.

Blogger Homesteader January 28, 2020 3:56 PM  

Why military service can be helpful, and team sports as well.

A man needs to be able to follow, and to lead, and not be particulary insecure about either.

Do your job. Care for your subordinates. Do the job your superiors WANT you to do. Loyalty always, up and down and sideways.
Get the mission accomplished, no matter what.

And, you don't determine your place in the SSH. Others do.

So just shut up, and get on with it.

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