What Is Chip Kelly’s Secret Agenda?
At one point this offseason, I read an article on USA Today discussing LeSean McCoy’s quotes about Chip Kelly. They caused controversy, and many sportswriters portrayed LeSean McCoy as the typical narcissistic athlete who couldn’t deal with criticism. McCoy’s quotes were posted on sports news sites across the United States after the star running back was shipped out to the Buffalo Bills for Kiko Alonzo, a talented young linebacker who played for Kelly with the Oregon Ducks.
LeSean McCoy seemed to be at a loss to explain why he was traded. Searching for answers, he suggested Chip Kelly trades his black players–at least the “good ones”. The incendiary nature of the charges got national headlines, with fans taking either sides of the argument.
A closer look at McCoy’s comments raised red flags for me, but of an entirely different nature. When I started looking at quotes from several other ex-Eagles, a pattern started to emerge.
Over the past 18 months, four different former Eagles players have been waived or traded under acrimonious or mysterious circumstances. Each of these players later questioned Chip Kelly’s motives or contradicted information released by the Eagles front office relating to their departure from Philadelphia. Each player was quoted in the national sports media. I am going to cite all four quotes and pick out passages which support my theory.
If I’m right, then Chip Kelly’s actions can be explained without the need to cite racism. At the same time, the implications for the Philadelphia Eagles’ near-future are bad. If I’m right, the motives which drive Chip Kelly’s decisions are bizarre and deeply psychological.
Before we get to that, let’s discuss the charges of racism made by a couple of ex-Eagles players.
Is Chip Kelly a Racist?
In his interview with ESPN on the subject, LeSean McCoy focused on the racial aspect of his relationship. As you might have expected, the charges split most Americans interested in the topic. A majority of African-American fans and sports journalists sided with McCoy, the African-American player. A majority of Caucasian fans and sports journalists sided with Chip Kelly, the white coach.
Most African-Americans draw from their experience as a minority dealing with the white American establishment, so they naturally think back to times they dealt with a white authority figure they felt hated them because of their race. That is reasonable and works most of the time, when dealing with conventional people motivated by conventional human motivations.
Most white Americans (especially white males) have never confronted those same experiences. When they hear charges of racism, the charges don’t hit the same buttons they would, if whites had faced a persistent pattern of hostility throughout their lives.
Don’t get me wrong; most Caucasians have dealt with white bosses and teachers and cops and administrators who were jerks. When those authority figures were jerks to them, they perceived the authority figure’s hostility differently. They couldn’t blame race, so they blamed something else. In short, they assumed these people were simply jerks and left it at that. Or they realized on some level they messed-up and the boss’s jerkiness was their own fault. Once again, given their experiences when dealing with most unhappy bosses, that probably makes sense.
Thus, when most Caucasians hear about a white coach trading his star player who happens to be black, they assume the coach is either “right” in trading the player, or they think the coach is a jerk. They don’t see hidden motives. And when most African-Americans hear about the same story, they naturally infer it’s a race-related thing, based upon their experiences and perceptions.
Those are two rational thought processes and neither side is inherently wrong. But in any particular situation, there’s your side, my side, and the truth.
The bottom line is somebody’s right.
The truth is Chip Kelly is either a racist who can’t stand to deal with star black players, or he’s not a racist and he made decisions based on personnel evaluations. Running backs are the most time-sensitive commodity in the NFL, so most knowledgeable NFL observers who side with Chip Kelly assumed he was getting rid of his star a year too early and not a year too late.
But other alternatives exist.
Maybe neither side is technically right, because something less common and more fundamental is at work here.
Chip Kelly’s Motivation: An Alternate Theory
Every once in a while, a person’s motives are so twisted and bizarre that they confound rational, conventional explanations. Everyone’s guess might be wrong.
In this article, I want to present a viable third option which could explain Chip Kelly’s moves these past couple of years, without his decisions being either racist or rational. I like to think this theory explains his decisions best, though I’m saying this is only a theory. I’m not a trained psychologist, though I’ve read a lot on the subject and dealt with a few of these people myself. I present this option and let you decide.
Before I start, let me give my allegiances. I am not a Philadelphia Eagles fan. I’m a Dallas Cowboys fan. I used to pull for Chip Kelly when he was with the Oregon Ducks, because I wanted someone (anyone) to knock the SEC teams off their perch. Also, I have no real ax to grind with the type of people I describe below. I’ve never been in a relationship with one, though I have a friend who was married to one and I’ve seen how they operate. This is no rant. I have a theory and think it might be correct.
It’s my opinion that Chip Kelly has a pattern of ridding himself of star players and bringing in players he knows are more amenable to his method of coaching. He seems to want to change out the personnel of the team in order to have his guys in the key roles, thus sending out players from the previous regime. This is natural enough for many new NFL general managers and coaches; they often feel personnel changes are needed to better fit their system.
So why am I analyzing this?
Some of the things LeSean McCoy said reminded me of complaints that people I know who’ve dealt with a certain type of personality are prone to make. It caused a theory to ferment in my mind.
First, let me give the four clues I promised. Those clues are named LeSean McCoy, Brandon Boykin, Desean Jackson, and Evan Mathis.
LeSean McCoy’s Quote
Let’s go back to what LeSean McCoy said about his time with Chip Kelly as the head coach of the Eagles.
At the time, McCoy said, “[Our] relationship was never really great. I feel like I always respected him as a coach. I think that’s the way he runs his team. He wants the full control. You see how fast he got rid of all the good players. Especially all the good black players. He got rid of them the fastest. That’s the truth. There’s a reason….It’s hard to explain with him. But there’s a reason he got rid of all the black players–the good ones–like that.”
Don’t focus on the racial statements in that quote. Focus on the other stuff for a moment.
“There’s a reason….It’s hard to explain with him.” – McCoy
“He wants the full control.” – LeSean McCoy
“…He got rid of all the good players.” – McCoy
What do we know about narcissists? They want total control. What are the good players on a football team? Those are the team leaders. How does LeSean McCoy explain their rift? He has trouble explaining it. He hesitates and says “there’s a reason”, like he knows there’s some reason, but he can’t put his finger on it. Then he says, “It’s hard to explain.”
It’s obvious LeSean McCoy can’t figure out what went wrong. He’s tried to explain it and the only thing that makes sense to him is Chip Kelly is a racist.
Talk to people who have been married to narcissists. Their own spouse is a mystery to them. Over time, they start to realize something’s wrong with the person, but they can’t quite put their finger on it. In fact, they’re under some kind of emotional abuse, but they often don’t even know it. Some grow accustomed to the abuse, while other fight back. Those people are discarded, while those who take the abuse fall under the narcissist’s increasing control.
The non-NPD or nNPD have a term for this…it’s called “coming in from the fog”. FOG is an acronym standing for fear, obligation, and guilt. These are the tactics used by narcissists and people with the other antagonistic personality disorders to get what they want. Friends, family members, coworkers, spouses, and children often fall for these tactics. They often don’t even realize it, due to a technique called “gaslighting”.
Brandon Boykin’s Quote
If one case sounds weak, I’ll back it up with a second ex-Eagles player: Brandon Boykin. Brandon Boykin left Philadelphia in the offseason after being traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Recently, reporters in Steelers camp asked Boykin about his time with the Eagles.
Boykin said, “The truth is Chip is uncomfortable around grown men of our culture. He can’t relate, and that makes him uncomfortable, he likes to be in total control of everything. Players can excel when you naturally let them be who they are and in my experience that hasn’t been important to him. I’m forever grateful to Mr. Lurie, Howie, my teammates, and fans of Philadelphia.”
Notice what Boykin said in the middle of that.
“He likes to be in total control of everything.” – Brandon Boykin
Once again, we come back to the subject of control. Boykin comes back to the subject of race, but once again, he’s grasping for reasons why Chip Kelly does what he does. In our cultural environment, racism is the first option to consider. But Boykin and McCoy both cite Chip Kelly’s need to control, a hallmark of narcissism.
Desean Jackson on Chip Kelly
I’ll tell you another hallmark of narcissism: the smear campaign. Character assassination is a classic tactic someone with an antagonstic personality disorder uses to win the breakup. If you end a work relationship or a romantic relationship with someone and you hear they’re spreading vicious lies about you, there’s a good chance they have a Cluster B personality disorder. They want everyone to think you’re the villain and they’re the victim, so they smear your good name. Which bring me to Desean Jackson.
Remember when Desean Jackson was waived by the Eagles? Jackson claimed Chip Kelly and the Eagles engaged in a “smear campaign” against him. Instead of just saying they wanted to go in another direction, they portrayed him as a locker room distraction. He might have been, but players inside the locker room defended Jackson.
Here is the full quote from DeSean Jackson: “I was at the top of the top. And then I got released. When I was released by the Eagles, I felt they tried to paint a picture that definitely wasn’t true. It was a slap in the face coming off one of my best seasons in the NFL. It’s like, bro, the Eagles tried to blow me up. That’s cold how they did me.”
“I felt like they tried to paint a picture that definitely wasn’t true.” – Desean Jackson
“The Eagles tried to blow me up.” – D Jackson
“That’s cold how they did me.” – D Jackson
Anyone who’s dealt closely with a family member or spouse with malignant narcissism is likely to understand what Desean Jackson is feeling here. Interestingly, despite the depiction of Jackson as a troublemaker in the locker room, he seems to have done the healthy thing and moved on. He had a good year on a bad team and continues to put together a nice career in the NFL.
Evan Mathis on His Release
Desean Jackson is not the only former player who felt like he had lies spread about his release. Evan Mathis, a Pro Bowl offensive guard for the Eagles in 2014, was released this offseason. After his release, Philadelphia fans were critical of the team releasing Mathis, who was arguably the team’s best offensive lineman last year.
On the day he was released, the Eagles suggested Evan Mathis had been offered a $1 million raise, but he had demanded a $3 million raise, instead. Mark Eckel of NJ.com reported he had spoken with an anonymous source with the team that Evan Mathis demanded to be the highest-paid guard in the NFL, so the team waived him due to financial considerations.
The exact quote from Mark Eckel was, “Mathis, who was scheduled to earn $5.5 million this year and $6 million next year, was looking for a $3 million raise to $8.5 million this year, someone familiar with the talks told NJ Advance Media. Not authorized to speak publicly on the negotiations, that person requested anonymity.
This got a direct reply from Evan Mathis, who said he was never offered a $1 million and he certainly never called for a $3 million raise. Evan Mathis posted on Twitter, “Your source is completely misinformed….All I asked for in the end was Pro Bowl/All-Pro bonuses that would allow me to reach 8 mil/year. Which is slightly less than top 5 OG APY. But I would have had to earn them.”
The important part of the quote is Evan Mathis’s direct contradiction of the Eagles’ characterization of him.
“Your source is completely misinformed.” – Evan Mathis
It probably shouldn’t require pointing out, but Evan Mathis is not African-American. But as a long time veteran with Pro Bowls under his belt, he was a respected team leader. I could see a legitimate argument being made for a new blood in the offensive line, but it’s interesting that the team had to leak that he was making outrageous demands.
A Pattern of Control and Lies
Now, no one has to believe these players. All four are former Eagles, so they might be disgruntled workers. You could say that Evan Mathis was 34 and the team needs to get younger. You could say Desean Jackson was inconsistent or toxic in the locker room. You might say Brandon Boykin had disappointed and should have been replaced. You might even argue LeSean McCoy was about to hit the wall as a late-20s running back with a lot of yardage behind him.
What I’m saying is there’s a pattern forming. Chip Kelly gets rid of players from the previous regime. When he does, those players are made to look aggressive or unreasonable in the media. These are always done through anonymous leaks. It’s never an amicable split, it would seem. And the common theme players keep discussing are Chip Kelly’s need for control and his character assassination.
Is Chip Kelly a Narcissist?
A need for total control and a propensity to smear a person’s character are traits associated with a particular type of person. Along with many other predictable behavior patterns, both are classic red flags for Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
I’m not saying this is true, but I’m saying it’s a possibility Eagles fans should consider.
Narcissism might explain Chip Kelly’s actions better than racism. I’m not talking about the type of narcissism sports fans are used to discussing. This isn’t about mere selfishness or the need for the spotlight. Plenty of athletes are narcissistic in some small degree. They’re selfish and need the spotlight, but they are otherwise normally functioning individuals within the team. This isn’t about someone demanding to “get the ball” more often. I’m talking about narcissism with a capital “N”: Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
NPD is one of ten officially recognized personality disorders in the DSM-5, which is what therapists use to diagnose patients. Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a form of distorted thinking, classified among the Cluster B or “antagonistic” personality disorder types.
Someone suffering from NPD is characterized as someone “excessively preoccupied with personal adequacy, power, prestige, and vanity.” These people are described as being “mentally unable to see the destructive damage they are causing to themselves and others.”
Quick List of Narcissistic Traits
Those who think they know a narcissist can look at the short list of traits below. This is is not official. I’ll post that in a minute. For a quick snapshot of what NPD looks like, a narcissist is described by psychological researchers as having three component parts.
- 1. An Unrealistic Sense of Superiority.
- 2. A Sense of Entitlement, or the belief they deserve special treatment.
- 3. A Lack of Empathy for other people.
Understand, we all exhibit these traits occasionally. Narcissists exhibit them (pretty much) all the time. This makes life difficult for the people around them. Essentially, they have trouble maintaining healthy relationships. When they don’t get the admiration they think they deserve, they get aggressive.
One wild thing is there’s a scientifically-proven test for determining whether a person is a narcissist. It’s a one-question test: ask the person if they’re a narcissist. If they say they are, then they likely are. For decades, scientists had a 40-question survey, but the 1-question test is about as reliable as the longer quiz. The narcissist usually will admit to being egotistical, self-focused, and vain.
The fact is, everybody has met a narcissist in their lifetime — probably many of them.
Think back to coworkers you’ve had who were aggressive self-promoters. If things were going right, they took credit for the success. If things were going badly, they were the first to point fingers. They might have had trouble with telling lies or exaggerating their accomplishments. Everything was always someone else’s fault. This person probably had a certain level of charm or charisma, but you didn’t quite feel like you could trust them when the chips were down.
These people are basically selfish and self-serving. They aren’t team players.
Even then, not every coworker who fit the description above had a personality disorder. Maybe they had tendencies, but were basically nice people. But some of the antics of office politicians hint at a much darker type of personality, a malignant presence wherever they go: controllers, manipulators, liars, and dissemblers.
These are the types of narcissists I’m wanting to discuss.
Prior to 1968, Narcissistic Personality Disorder was termed as megalomania. Sufferers deal with extreme egotism, which antagonizes the people around them. It’s been said that neurotics or people with nervous personality disorders caused a lot of troubles for the person afflicted, while the antagonistic personality disorders tend to cause a lot of trouble for the people around them. Essentially, they antagonize people. These are high conflict persons.
The odd thing is, people tend to gloss over how antagonistic they are. One of the big problems in dealing with narcissists is people are left in the dark about this person’s motives.
Not all narcissists are obvious. In my experience, true narcissists don’t stand in front of a mirror admiring themselves. Instead, they exhibit skill in getting people to drop their guard, not knowing that some kind of sick, manipulative game is taking place. Many of them have gotten quite good at hiding their distorted thinking and their basic selfishness. In retrospect, you might notice a pattern, but it’s often obscured by unnaturally good people skills and the willpower to hide their true self from the world. What I’m saying is: not every narcissist is immediately obvious.
Some are great at seeming normal, because appearances are most important. Thus, only those who come in close contact with the person begin to notice how odd this person is. It’s like the tales of fetches in Old World folklore. For all intents and purposes, they seem normal, but after a time, something about them seems “off”.
Before I go too much further, let’s discuss what Narcissistic Personality Disorder is not.
What Narcissistic Personality Disorder Is Not
A narcissist with NPD is not simply someone who is vain about their looks. Many of these people are quite vain, but that’s not the key trait. Also, NPD is not about people being beautiful or attractive, though many people with NPD think they are unnaturally beautiful or attractive. Some of them are, but I’m familiar with NPD-narcissists whom few people would find attractive physically.
Another perception is narcissists are smart–often brilliant. Not all people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder are brilliant, or even particularly smart. No doubt, some are. The ones with talent ascend up the career ladder, often showing remarkable abilities in some area.
For every brilliant narcissist, though, there is someone with average intelligence and one who frankly isn’t that bright at all. It would be a mistake to assume a person with NPD is any smarter, more attractive, or more talented than anyone else you know.
These are basically people with the normal human range of physical and intellectual traits. What sets them apart is how they view themselves, and how they view the world around them. Their worldview is distorted.
What Narcissistic Personality Disorder Looks Like
Besides a need for control and a propensity to smear the people who don’t go along with their program, someone with NPD exhibits other traits. While they can have very different personas (some flamboyant, others stealthy) these are cookie-cutter people with very similar tactics. Someone with NPD is selfish and manipulative, and they know the many tactics used to get what they want. As they grow older, they hone these skills.
Early in development, all children are selfish and manipulative, because their world is limited and because they are helpless, so they must learn tactics to get what they want. Eventually, children mature and grow out of this phase. As they grow, they become more independent and capable, but they also begin to realize the people around them are full human beings like themselves, with their own cares and needs. A normal child develops empathy as they mature.
A person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder never grows beyond the early phase of child development. They attain adult skills and hone their manipulative tactics to near-perfection, but they do not mature beyond this feeling the universe revolves around them. Nor do they mature beyond a desire to treat people as things to be manipulated, instead of fully-realized beings with their own needs. Thus, the Narcissist learns from an early age how to manipulate people, but their learning is directed at figuring out new and better ways to manipulate — not ways to better help and please their fellow human beings. Their idea of “love” remains rooted in getting their needs met, above all else. This requires manipulation and control.
This worldview gives them brilliant insight into the dark side of human psychology and human frailty, as they figure out what it is which causes people to do as they want. This is incomplete knowledge, though. All their lives, they have a stunning naivete about what motivates good people. They simply don’t understand the value of trust, teamwork, differences of opinion, or positive criticism. Everything is about establishing dominance and control to get their needs met.
Below are specific traits you’ll notice they exhibit, too. This is not an official list of traits, which you can find here on the Mayo Clinic website.
- Inability to deal with criticism. Everything is always someone else’s fault. If criticized, they have a talent for turning it back on the one criticizing them, or pointing the finger at someone else. A narcissist never says they’re sorry, except when cornered. Even then, this is a tactic to escape punishment. It’s never sincere, and they would do the same thing in a similar situation.
- Lack of boundaries. They don’t respect other people’s boundaries: that is, their self-respect and need for privacy. This manifests in many ways. I knew a narcissist who would call his friend’s parents “Mom” and “Dad” on first meeting them. This was off-putting to a number of parents, but no doubt impressed some parents with how “warm” the person was.
- Superficially charming. In the beginning, they tend to flatter people and they’re good at flattery. Two-thirds of narcissists have no conscience, so their flattery seems reflexive and natural, and therefore genuine.
- Constant need for attention. They need “narcissistic supply”, which is attention from people. In particular, they need praise and adulation.
- History of antagonisms. The NPD person has a long history of controversy with people.
- Splitting is a psychological process a narcissist undergoes where they raise someone up on a pedestal, then devalue them. They see the world in black-and-white. A person is either all-good or all-evil, an angel or a demon. In the beginning, they idolize a person, but not for long. Splitting is what small children do: I love this and I hate that. Most of us outgrow the process, but narcissists are stuck in early childhood their whole lives. That might seem odd, given they lead corporations and have seedy private lives. When you start to think of a narcissist like the child they are, everything starts to make sense. For the disordered person splitting, they adore someone, thinking that person will fill some “void” inside them. When disappointed by reality, they sour on the person. They can’t blame themselves for the failure of the two to connect, so the other person is evil.
- When a person is devalued, they are less than trash. This is when the rotten side of the narcissist truly comes out and the smear campaign begins.
- Gaslighting is a tactic used to initiate people into their weird mindset. This is the same tactic used by cults. Essentially, you try to convince a person they’re the crazy one, and the normalcy they’ve grown used to over a lifetime is actually strange and wrong. By doing so, they disorient a person and break down their resistance. The person is too confused to resist.
- They manufacture chaos. That is, they create controversies and crises, hoping to keep other people off-balance and confused. Most people don’t like confrontation and it tends to wear them out emotionally. By having constant chaos, the NPD is able to wear down opponents and slowly gather more power, influence, and control.
- Attack through proxies. A favorite thing is to set two people against one another. These two people argue, not knowing they were cast in these roles by the narcissistic manipulator. This makes the narcissist feel superior, while he or she gets a sadistic glee seeing the pain it causes both sides. Also, if the two are fighting each other, they can’t gang up on the narcissist.
- A pattern of secrecy. The narcissist is a secret keeper. They know, if all of their victims (friends) got in the same room and compared notes, this would be bad.
- Obsession with money. Early on, the narcissist learned the value of money: control. Their parent probably used money to control them, so they realized that the more money they had, the more they could control people. The narcissist tends to be stingy. I’ve known three (for sure) narcissists in my life and all three had childhood moneymaking jobs. I’m not talking about mowing yards, throwing a newspaper, or having a lemonade stand. I’m talking about they were the seedy kid who sold contraband in school…as a steady moneymaking venture.
- They mock emotions and people being emotional. If a person gets upset by the narcissist’s rottenness, they are “whining”, “being a baby”, “too emotional”, or “too childish”. If someone tells you, “I’m sorry you got offended by this,” there’s a big chance they have an antagonistic personality disorder like NPD. Saying, “I’m sorry you’re upset” is not an apology, nor is it an admission the Narcissist has done anything wrong. Instead, they are flipping it back on their victim, essentially saying the other person is at fault, because they are exhibiting emotions. This is the classic worldview of someone with Anti-Social Personality Disorder, the modern term for being a sociopath or a psychopath. Since 2/3rds of Narcissists are also a sociopath or psychopath, this is a common refrain from NPDs, when confronted by their victims. In essence, they are blaming you for having emotions, feelings, or human needs beyond them. If someone gives you one of these “apologies”, run really fast. They don’t recognize you’re a real human being and they’ll continue to abuse you for as long as you let them. For the abuser, the idea is that emotions get taken out of the equation. This is natural and right to them, because the narcissist was taught to suppress their emotions as a child (usually). Strangely, they combine this with the next trait.
- Anger issues. Actually, this isn’t so strange. Human beings are meant to have emotions. If a child is taught to suppress their emotions, it goes inside and becomes a seething pit of anger at the core of their being. The narcissist grew up an angry person and they have an intimate knowledge of that emotion. They have a sense for anger in other people, and how to exploit it. More than that, though, the narcissist is an angry person. The people who know them best tend to walk on eggshells around them, fearing some kind of outburst or punishment (not always physical). You simply come to know this is a bad person to “be on their bad side”.
- Pomposity and delusions of grandeur. They like to tell tall tales about themselves. Two of the narcissists I’ve known claimed they stood up in class and gave lectures and/or speeches in college. Their fellow students were so impressed, the narcissists received “standing ovations”. This kind of triumph seems to be a fantasy of theirs. Imagine a hundred variations on that theme (in a hundred different settings) and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
- Pathological liar. The narcissist is a pathological liar. They might get away with it at first, because they lie with such skill. They have acting talent–no doubt. The more you know them, the more you recognize the pattern of lies.
Which brings us full circle. The Narcissist is a big liar, which is why it’s a red flag when a coach tries to smear his former players (as two Eagles claim). In time, healthy people with a good head on their shoulders start to realize the narcissist can’t be trusted. Making it worse, lots of good-hearted people who don’t know the narc as well will be fooled by them. In many cases, a spouse or old friend who calls out a narcissist looks like the crazy one. Superficially, the narcissist seems “normal”, so outbursts against them seem crazy.
The Advantages of Narcissism
The fact is, narcissists believe they are smarter, more attractive, and more talented than other people. Recent data shows those with NPD don’t project this outer shell as some defense against shame or low self-esteem, either. These people really, truly believe they are smarter and better than other people. This gives them a sense of entitlement, an arrogance, and a sort of elitist sense about them.
Their elitism is built around their own traits. If they’re intelligent, then intelligent people are elite. If they’re dumb, then eggheads don’t really know how the world works. If they’re rich, then the rich are all that matter in the world, If they’re poor, then the rich steal from the world and deserve anything they get.
Ultimately, they have no real philosophy, except an inner belief in their own greatness and their mission in this world.
This gives the person amazing confidence.
Narcissists project confidence, to the point of arrogance. Their confidence is far beyond any accomplishments they might have had. This is magnetic. Most people deal with a certain amount of self-doubt or hesitation. A person who seems to have total confidence in what he or she does seems to have vision. They seem to have a plan, or to have life figured out. The Narcissist is not prone to deal with doubt, hesitation, or lack of boldness…ever.
Often, that trait allows them to attain positions of influence and authority. If they combine this confidence with intelligence and charm, they move through the ranks of organizations with great skill. They often become leaders of men. They can attain authority in all walks of life. The Narcissist can be found leading corporations, political organizations, religious groups, and football teams. They can be anywhere.
Also, narcissists are like chameleons. They can blend in, especially in one-on-one situations. A narcissist can “mirror” a person, picking up on their traits and mimicking them. If you’re a calm and fun-loving person, then the narcissist is going to seem calm and fun-loving around you. If you’re an angry person, they’re likely to mirror that anger. The point being, you’re seeing the false self used to gain attention (called “narcissistic supply”). You’re not seeing the real person.
As you can see, these are formidable traits. All of this might sound great, but there is a dark side to narcissism. In fact, it’s a REALLY dark side.
The Disadvantages of Narcissism
Narcissists believe they are the center of the universe. Other people are not real to them in a meaningful way. People are seen by the narcissist as either extensions of themselves or less than human. In either case, any form of manipulation is warranted, because those around them are lesser beings. They don’t exist on the same level.
This brings me to another point: narcissists need to be in control. They crave control. If they don’t have it, then they want influence. If they get influence, then they use that influence to gain control of a situation. If they become the boss, then they need 100% devotion from those underneath them. If they don’t get it, they rage. They cut the person off. They want that person to kowtow to them, or that person is gone.
This brings me to yet another point: narcissists have a unique connection to anger. The only ones I’ve known or knew about had anger issues. They might seem like they’re calm most of the time. In fact, a narcissist might seem like the most calm, under control, well-balanced person you know. The mask stays on all the time. This is a lot of work, and takes tremendous willpower. They often gained that willpower being raised by someone like them, learning to deal with a controller from the earlier age…and still win. But their talent was gained the hard way, and at a great human cost. Underneath that mask of calm, anger seethes. I also should mention those with NPD can sense anger in other people, so they are good at reading people.
How Narcissists Are Created
Let me go back to the technique called “mirroring”. Early on, a narcissist learned how to read people’s emotions very well and adapt to them. That’s because they likely were raised by a disordered person.
(Note: This isn’t always the case, so you shouldn’t reflexively blame the parents. Often, one of the parents was really nice, while one was really good at hiding the bad. Also, there is some evidence people with narcissistic personality disorder and borderline personality disorder have different electrical activity in the frontal lobe of the brain than mentally healthy people.)
Doctors think that a narcissist is created when their parent or close loved one does two things. They:
- Praise them and make the child think they are special in some way.
- Are hypercritical and criticize virtually everything they do.
These two dynamics combines to create a rare type of individual. On the one hand, they have the idea they are elite, special, and brilliant. On the other hand, they lack human warmth, because a key figure in their lives never instilled that in them. Instead, the young narcissist got ceaseless criticism, what amounts to emotional and psychological abuse.
What this leaves is a control freak with a pit of rage at the center of their being. They likely were criticized throughout their childhood and were not shown the kind of human love they should have been. This leaves them with a hatred of criticism in any form. The surest way to see their dark side is to tell them anything but that they are brilliant. If they sense you’re against them, their inner psychology can’t take it and they must annihilate you in some way. You have to be cut off and sent away. They want you out of their lives.
If you happen to be a football coach, then you trade the player…no matter how talented he is…no matter how much he can help you.
Of course, this is reinforced by other motivations. I said earlier that a narcissist sees other people as an extension of himself or herself. In a football situation, they are likely to want to bring in their handpicked players. They don’t want holdovers, even if those holdovers are really good.
What Would NPD Mean for the Eagles?
If Chip Kelly is a raging narcissist with a need for control, then I’m going to suggest it’s really bad for the Philadelphia Eagles. Narcissists have the skills to get to the top. They have the skills to maintain control. But they usually end up being a malign presence at the top of an organization.
The culture they create is not conducive to winning. They want “Yes Men” giving them advice on personnel decisions. They want players who do not usurp their authority. They create a toxic work environment where lies, paranoia, and smear campaigns are the rule of the day. Simply put, they are toxic. Think of the stories of Enron or any dictator’s regime and you get an idea of what I’m talking about.
In short, if Chip Kelly has Narcissistic Personality Disorder, he is going to preside over the dismantling of the old team and he is going to create a new team in his image. And I’d bet a lot of money that it’s going to fail in a big way.
I’m a Cowboys fan, so I’m not going to cry too much, if that’s the case. But I like Demarco Murray and I don’t think the rest of the 53-man roster deserves all of that, so I hope it’s not the case.