Thursday, October 9, 2008
Behind The Scoreboard
Would you believe that after just five weeks into the latest NFL season the “coaches’ carousel” has already begun swirling?
On Sunday, it was all over the media that three head coaches had been axed and rumors were circulating about a fourth. Generally, this doesn’t happen until what has been termed as “Black Monday” rolls around. And that is one day after the Super Bowl. Now it would appear that owners really don’t give a darn what color the Monday is.
Since the late ’80s, head coaches in the NFL have been a most sought-after commodity. They have realized that along with some of the game’s most valuable players, they too, can command huge salaries. Make no bones about it, they understand the conditions. Rich owners expect them to make them richer. They have to not only perform, they also have to produce. Not just winners, but Super Bowl winners.
It is most professional coaches’ dreams that one day they will head up a pro team in the NFL. Practically all of them are acutely aware of their worth. They harbor a universal belief that given the right circumstances, a roster of good players and a cooperating boss, they can make it to the “Big Game.” I thought it would be fun to do a little research and find out which mentors are considered to be the most valuable. Let me preface by saying that some of those listed here might not be everyone’s choice(s). Of course, y’all realize that there is a “top 10” list out there for coaches just like there is for teams, etc., don’t you?
To try not to stuff you with too many stat facts, all the salaries will not be mentioned, however, it suffices to say that all are millionaires. When the list was last updated, Bill Belichek was numero uno with Tony Dungy in second place. Each of these has contracts worth $5 million plus per season. Number three is Mike Shanahan with a pair of Super Bowls; four is Marvin Lewis of the Bengals; five is Tom Coughlin with one Super Bowl jewel; six is John Gruden, seven is Romeo Crennel; eight is Mike Holmgren; nine is Andy Reid; and 10 is Lovie Smith. On some lists you could find Bill Cowher, Bill Parcels, Jim Mora and Joe Gibbs.
If you recall, Gibbs was lured out of retirement to lead the Redskins back to glory. He left after four seasons with a 30-34 record but $20 million richer. Parcells returned with a four-year contract worth $17 million. He had two SB wins and left with a record of 34-30.
According to history, the largest turnover was after the ’96 season when 11 coaches were ushered out. The newest list has a trio of names. One could not be verified, so he will not be named by this writer. On the rumor bubble is the Cowboys’ Wade Phillips.
The coaches who were reportedly terminated were Scott Lenihan of St. Louis and the Raiders’ Lane Kiffin. Kiffin’s firing has the most bizarre story. He was called at 1 a.m. and told that he was fired. When he asked for a face to face, he was told that he could come to a meeting at 2 a.m. at a place selected by the Oakland hierarchy. How clandestine is that? For the pure sake of stretching the drama to its limits, I hope he refused.
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