Editor, White Cover Magazine
Coaching seems like the dream job any fat middle aged dude would want, right? And, if you’re even the least bit fit, your profile gets a serious bump… and you may even be able to cheat on your wife with someone much, much younger.
But, no, coaching is tough. You have to work your way up through a plethora of ranks and a multitude of low-level gigs. They pay so little, you’ll need a second job to survive. Plus, what if you have a family? You’re going to need some financial aid for the present and the future, assuming you get divorced amid an adultery scandal of completely your own doing. Then, on the Grace of God and a whole Hell of a lot of good luck, you make it to the Pros.
But, it’s still tough, and that was never clearer than Monday, when seven NFL coaches were let go after disappointing — some of them completely unacceptable — result.
The Chicago Bears let go of Lovie Smith. They were, at one point, the hottest team in the NFL. Now, they’re left to watch the Packers and Vikings duke it out in the Divisional Round.
The Eagles finally booted Andy Reid after 14 years and a lot of missed chances.
Same goes for Norv Turner, whose time in San Diego had been numbered since The Flintstones went off air.
In Lovie Smith’s case, Bears players have shown just how emotional a longtime coach’s canning can be. Smith had deep roots within the organization, and his vines run through all his players, too.
“I think it’s going to be a sad day at Halas Hall,” said Bears quarterback Jay Cutler. “I have a lot of respect for the guy. He’s made friends with a lot of the players. He’s a players’ coach. I think right now I’m a little surprised, a little sad. Wish I could have done more offensively to help him out.”
“I don’t even know if I want to play again,” said Devin Hester, a Bears wide receiver and the greatest return man of all-time. “That’s been something on my mind for two years.”
In Philadelphia, where the Dream Team quickly turned into a four-win team, there was regret and remorse of Andy Reid’s departure.
“He’s a great man and I love him to death,” said Eagles free range quarterback Michael Vick. “I wish I could’ve done more. A lot of players wish they could’ve done more. Coaches can’t play the games.”
And then there are the faithfully departed who have been exorcised like bloated bodies after Gettysburg. They’re all their own people, but they’re going to go down as one, lumped together in some kind of mass grave of backyard barbecues and low-carb Budweisers.
The Kansas City Chiefs fired Romeo Crennel. The Arizona Cardinals fired Ken Wisenhunt. The Buffalo Bills fired Chan Gailey. The Cleveland Browns fired Pat Shurmur.
That makes seven coaches — and a couple GMs just for good measure — who are now unemployed and left without certainty of ever having the same kind of job or life again.
That is the life of a coach but, really, their days are always numbered. The ones who stay have obviously connected with their general manager for some reason, and those general managers normally end up going down when their head coaches do.
Think about it. If you’re a head coach and you don’t win a Super Bowl, who says your strategy can ever work? If it fails once, you’ll need a lot of faith from others to think you can make it right the next time. As soon as someone figures out your scheme, you’ll need a whole bunch of fortune to ever climb that mountain.
Really, all but a few head coaches are chum for sharks.
Chuck Noll. Vince Lombardi. Bill Belichick. Maybe even Tom Coughlin. There are only a handful in history who can be trusted to get the best out of their players each and every Sunday, and even they fail most of the time.
Guys like Bill Cowher and Tony Dungy were lucky to hang around long enough before their players finally pulled it together. Dungy had Peyton Manning, and he rode that rose into the sunset. He’s a good coach, but he was never the great coach he’s now viewed as. Same for Cowher, who won a Super Bowl in his last year with the Steelers, but watched them fail year-after-year before that because everyone knew they were so confident in their defence and so confident even their running game, even when they had no reason to be.
Being a head coach looks awesome. It probably is. But, it also sucks.
The end of Week 17 is always evidence of that.
*Is Jason Garrett next?