One of the biggest differences between being a college coach and a pro coach is dealing with the media.
The amount of media is generally larger for NFL teams, and the questions are different. Among NFL reporters there's a much bigger focus on news: lineup decisions, player contracts, roster moves, etc. And ... injuries.
Doug Marrone hasn't even gotten to his first August as a NFL head coach and he is already fed up with the questions surrounding the unusual injury-related absence of the highest-paid player in Bills history, defensive end Mario Williams.
As the Buffalo News wrote (and it posted an accompanying video on that story as well), repeated questions about Williams, who left camp on Monday to have his sore foot evaluated, were eventually met with an angry response.
Marrone said "I haven’t had contact with anyone in regards to Mario" early in his press conference, which drew a few understandable follow-up questions and Marrone didn't like them. The exchange got a bit heated and uncomfortable.
"My answers are going to be it's the same situation as it was yesterday," Marrone said. "For me to speculate, I never speculate until I hear from the medical staff. ... The doctors go through an evaluation process, and when they inform me, that's when I know. It's as simple as that.
"I get frustrated, honestly, when it gets to a point where I feel like I've tried to explain myself and how I handle the injuries, and I've answered the questions, and you keep coming at me, all right?"
Buffalo News columnist Tim Graham pointed out later that the testy exchange – which went on to include Marrone telling reporters that an inquiry into whether Williams' absence was excused was "not a legitimate question" – was omitted from the team's transcript of Marrone's press conference.
The exchange isn't all that unusual – coaches and players clash with media often, usually off camera – but Williams' situation is. Williams missed a practice on Sunday, and then left camp Monday to get his sore foot checked out. This comes almost a year Williams had midseason surgery for a wrist injury the Bills didn't even list on the injury report. The fact that it was hard for reporters to get a clear answer on what the Bills know about the foot injury, two days after Williams first sat out, just adds to the odd nature of it all. Star players rarely leave camp to get evaluated for an injury without the team being kept up to date with every relevant detail.
For now, all signs appear to be pretty good for Williams, who sought a second opinion.
Second opinion on Bills' Mario Williams reveals no serious damage to his foot. Expected to be fine.
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) July 30, 2013
Unfortunately for Marrone, as the concern grows over the player the Bills gave a $96 million contract to last offseason, the questions are going to keep coming.