There are 21 coaches in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. There are 32 current head coaches in the NFL. It is clear to see that the path to NFL coaching immortality is a narrow one.
No more than a handful of today’s coaches have even an outside shot at the Hall of Fame. Three coaches who definitely won’t make it are Andy Reid, Norv Turner and Romeo Crennel. No doubt they try their best. No doubt they know many things about the sport of football. But coaches who have never won anything and who get fired late in their careers don’t make the Hall of Fame. I did research on this and everything. It checks out.
So what are Reid, Turner and Crennel to do? Give up and prepare to have their corpses thrown to the scrap heap of forgotten history? No. Everyone wants to be remembered. Everyone wants to leave a legacy.
So what to do? Look to Jim Mora Sr.
The elder Mora coached 16 seasons in the NFL from 1986 through 2001 and had a 125-106 record with seven winning seasons, six losing seasons and an 0-6 career playoff record. He is not in the Hall of Fame. In fact, his career numbers are pretty much the definition of average. If you wanted to go 8-8 or 9-7 or flameout in the playoffs, Mora was a great coach to have. He was the Reid and Turner of the '80s and '90s.
Yet Jim Mora Sr. will be remembered forever. Same as Vince Lombardi. Same as Bill Walsh.
Let’s compare Mora to former Baltimore Ravens coach Brian Billick, who had an 80-64 career record and was 5-3 in the playoffs with a Super Bowl win. His career winning percentage bests Mora’s, and his postseason success dwarfs that of Reid and Turner. Yet no one is begging for Billick’s services. He is five years removed from coaching and well on his way to becoming the new Tom Flores -- a successful, Super Bowl-winning coach completely forgotten by history. (Yes, Flores won a Super Bowl. Two, in fact. Three, including his time as a player. Really.)
Why the different legacies for Mora and Billick (and this Flores guy)? And what can this teach today’s soon-to-be-fired coaches? You know the answer.
Mora had an epic news conference meltdown that lives forever on YouTube and in Coors Light commercials, while Billick always comported himself in a calm, measured way.
Forget Mora versus Billick. Who will be remembered more in 20 years: Billick or Dennis “Crown Their Ass” Green? Billick or Herman “You Play to Win the Game” Edwards?
Rants can trump rings. And when you have no rings, rants are the only hope a coach has for immortality.
But now we have another problem. Reid, Turner and Crennel are not exactly dynamic personalities. Reid has been giving the same boring news conference for 14 years, and if there is video evidence that Crennel has been awake even once since 2005, I’d be interested to see it. Turner gamely tried to have a tirade this week but seven seconds into it remembered “Oh, crap. I’m Norv Turner. I don’t know how to do this. Abort! Abort!” Except he probably didn’t even internally yell “Abort.” My mistake on those exclamation points. Exclamation points are not Norv Turner.
So the path to being remembered is even narrower for failed coaches who were tragically born without personalities. This is not an issue for Rex Ryan, another coach who could/should be fired. He is far from personality deficient and already has hours of footage that will live on long after he goes down captaining the S.S. Sanchise.
“Coach Ryan, now that you have all that cold Coors Light, what are you going to do?”
“Let’s go eat a g--damn snack.”
See? Easy. That commercial wrote itself with one second of thought.
For Reid, Turner and Crennel to thread the needle to coaching immortality, they’ll need to rely solely on providing material for a Coors Light commercial. And I mean a good Coors Light commercial. Crennel’s low-wattage personality already powered one right off the air.
The only way to do it is for them to pepper their news conferences with Coors brand talking points that are so on point that the beer maker will have no choice but to run ads featuring them for eternity.
The next time Crennel’s Chiefs get crushed, he can say something like: “They opened up a can on us. A wide-mouthed can.”
The Chiefs have two games left against the Broncos, while Turner’s Chargers have one in Denver. Consider this news conference line, gentlemen: “It wasn’t just cold; it was Rocky Mountain cold.”
Troubles in the locker room? Try this: “How am I being received by the players during this losing streak? It’s cold. In fact, there’s a two-stage cold activation. It’s gone from Cold to Super Cold.”
Completely sick of losing? Go with this: “We need to improve in every area. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go forget this by drinking an insane amount of beer. And not just any beer, delicious cold Coors Light. But don’t worry. I have a designated driver. Always drink responsibly. Coors Brewing Company, Golden, Colorado.”
If those aren’t enough, just be honest.
“How awful is my team? We are the Bud Light of football teams.”
Enjoy immortality, gentleman. And maybe give drunken coaching a try. It couldn’t hurt.