Awkward post-game handshakes capture that final moment of interaction between two teams or coaches after a football, hockey, basketball, baseball or soccer game. Generally, especially in the NFL and college football, coaches meet at the center of the field after the whistle to shake hands and go on their merry way. These instances are not those times. These are the most awkward, most uncomfortable and most heated handshakes in sports.
The post-game handshake is often a highly debated topic in the sports world with many arguing that it's unnecessary and others calling it a natural show of sportsmanship. In the history of the National Football League, many of the top NFL coaches of all time like Vince Lombardi, George Halas, Tom Landry and George Allen rarely if ever participated in the mid-field meeting. Back then, missing the handshake was no big deal but today, when the seemingly respectful exchange goes awry, it often makes headline news.
That was exactly the case when Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz met with San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh after the Niners defeated the Lions in October 2011. Schwartz felt the handshake from the excited Harbaugh was "too hard" and took exception. Words were exchanged, shoves followed and players from both teams flocked to back up their leaders.
Harbuagh and Schwartz certainly were not the first two coaches to make a scene after a game and definitely won't be the last but they're not the only members of the team to get heated after a match. For sports like hockey where handshakes among the players after a series are common, those encounters often lead to brawls as well.Be it two coaches meeting in the middle of a football field or two teams shaking hands after a hockey game, the ritual of the post-game handshake is a double-edged sword. It's a measure of respect for the opponent but also is timed such that emotions from the game are still at their peak, which in these cases can lead to an awkward, if not disastrous, result.