As this article describes, every season, regardless of the sport, there are distractions. As we've seen with the NY Giants recently, some are major distractions.
According to Broncos coach Mike Shanahan, the worst thing you can do is ignore the problem:
"If there is something out there, you try to talk about it, try to get it out of the way. If something happens . . . you talk about it as a team. Once you talk about it, everybody gives their opinions on what they may think, it's kind of over with and you go on to the next problem. That's how you eliminate distractions; distractions are when you don't address them. The wives are talking about it, the girlfriends are talking about it, the media is talking about it and you don't address it, then it's a problem.
If you don't address these guys head-on, and you don't address the problem, then it gets bigger and the distractions just mount. It goes local, national and, all of a sudden, the snowball is rolling. They never just pass, go away on their own.
Some of it as you coach is if you don't deal with it, (the players) are going to wonder what you think instead of knowing because you told them. They get bits and pieces, girlfriend, wife, it's embellished and it all snowballs.
So in the end, yes, I do think those things can affect how you play, especially if you don't address it. If you've got a problem with a guy, if you've got a malcontent, what you do is in front of the team and then you say, 'Hey, this is what I think, this is what he thinks,' and you clear the air and then you've got a chance."
Rod Smith, a former All-Pro WR who won two Super Bowls in 12 seasons with the Broncos, had advice for players new to professional sports:
"I would tell young guys all the time, if you bring all of the things going on in your life to work, this is not a job where you're going to function all right. Go do something else. There are things more important than football, lots of things, but if you play football in this league and you get paid, you have to learn to leave those things for the time you are in the building. Or somebody's taking your job and then you'll have a lot more to worry about."