Ken Whisenhunt is a good man. A former Eagle scout, he and his wife have two daughters.
Romeo Crennel is also a good man. He had hip replacement surgery in 2009 and decided to take that year off. Andy Reid is another fine individual–he and his wife have raised five children, three boys and two girls. Pat Shurmur is a man of good character who met his wife at Michigan State–they have three girls and a boy. Norv Turner has been an inspiration to many people, a trait that should benefit him in the future.
These five men, along with Lovie Smith and Chan Gailey, will be tied forever to this day, individually and collectively. Because, according to ESPN.com, today was Black Monday for the National Football League. The day following the regular season…traditionally, the day that head coaches considered to be less than successful by their bosses are let go.
Whisenhunt was the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals; Crennel, the Kansas City Chiefs; Reid, the Philadelphia Eagles; Shurmur coached the Cleveland Browns; Turner, the San Diego Chargers; Smith ran the show for the Chicago Bears; and Gailey, the Buffalo Bills.
Most of them–perhaps all–deserved better. Crennel was a first-person witness on December 1 to Jovan Belcher’s suicide. Two of Reid’s sons were each involved in separate serious automobile crashes in 2007 that resulted in assault and drug charges brought against both. This past August his other son died of an accidental heroin overdose while at the team’s training camp.
Several of the coaches were given only a couple of years to turn their teams around, with little success. It can take several years of great draft picks to turn a team around–and let’s not forget what I believe are the three determinants for success in the NFL: talent, coaching and luck. Most of these coaches had enough of the first, an average to above-average amount of the second, and nowhere near enough of the third.
Three of them–Whisenhunt, Smith and Reid–took their teams to the Super Bowl, only to see each suffer a loss. Getting there sets the bar even higher, and for most fans and owners, winning it is a head coach’s only redemption.
None of these men have ever led a team to that Super Bowl victory.
And, in the NFL, as in life, the quality of a person can have little to do with the quality–or the longevity–of one’s job.
Be assured that each will find work in the near future elsewhere in the world of professional football. But at least one might have had enough.
[A prosperous and Happy New Year to all!]