ASHBURN, Va. -- The questions come daily, not just from the media but from others in their life. One coach is in the hot seat; plenty of other fates depend on the outcome.
That’s why Washington Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan told his wife long ago that she shouldn’t listen to the radio – even in good times. Shanahan learned that as a youngster growing up the son of a coach.
“If you’re going to be in this profession, you better be in it because you love it and enjoy what you do,” Shanahan said. “It doesn’t matter whether you’re good or bad, you’re going to get attacked and that’s part of the profession.”
So, too, is dealing with uncertainty over your job. That’s the situation Washington’s coaches find themselves in now, with Mike Shanahan on the so-called hot seat thanks to a 24-39 record entering the regular-season finale of his fourth year. At this point it’s unlikely Shanahan will return.
That means a number of other coaches would be out of a job along with him. Both coordinators are also under fire and have staffs of coaches anxious about their future as well.
“It’s not the good part of [coaching],” defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said. “People don’t understand it does involve more than just me. It involves my wife, kids. There’s families involved so when you’re talking about 22 coaches, there’s a lot more people than 22 coaches that get involved. You’re talking about moving families, moving kids, different schools, all that stuff. The ugly part of football.”
But they all understand why this happens.
“I’ve kind of seen it all and gone through it,” said Haslett, who was fired as New Orleans’ head coach after the 2005 season and was not retained after serving as St. Louis’ interim coach in 2008. “It’s just really part of the job that comes up when you come with this kind of record that we have right now.”
Mike Shanahan said, “Not that it doesn’t affect you when you’re older, but you’ve been through it before. You understand the highs and lows of the profession and you deal with it. If you deal with it too much then you’re not in the profession very long. But it comes with the territory.”
For Kyle Shanahan, this is a new experience, though he saw his father go through it as a young coach with the Oakland Raiders. His own children are too young to be that immersed in his career or to get the sort of ribbing he once did in school after bad games or seasons.
“It’s very important that you learn how to deal with it,” Shanahan said. “I was as sensitive as you could be anytime I heard negative stuff about my dad growing up.”
But this situation is different because it involves him and his staff. Plus they’ve now had to answer questions about their status every week. Or they’re asked about players’ futures that they may or may not be part of, though Shanahan said in his mind he will be here in the future. Still, he understands the chatter.
“As soon as you’re eliminated from the playoffs at an early time like we have been, really, we’ve had to deal with it every week,” Kyle Shanahan said. “You always have a bunch of games to go forward so you can’t think about it too much, but with this being the last one and nothing after it for sure, it is a little different but we’re getting through it.”
That’s why he’s trying not to have any expectations for what will happen in the next couple weeks. Kyle Shanahan did say he thinks it will be resolved quickly.
“When you try to assume what’s going to happen with stuff that’s completely out of your control, that’s just an anxiety attack waiting to happen,” Shanahan said. “I try to block that out as much as I can. Obviously your wife wants to know -- family and stuff -- because you really don’t know. When you worry about that stuff too much it’s impossible to focus on the job at hand.”
It’s all about keeping perspective. That means to remember why you got into coaching in the first place, even if it leads to upheaval every several years.
“I love what it did for my family growing up,” Kyle Shanahan said. “I hope I can provide the same for my immediate family now as they get older. That’s why we do it, not for someone to tell you that you were awesome last year or that you suck this year. If you keep it in that perspective, then it will help you enjoy your life a lot more as your career goes.”