9 Most Shocking Coach Firings of All Time
In the wake of the NFL’s “Black Monday,” where seven NFL head coaches rang in 2013 on the unemployment line the mind wanders to silver linings, assurances to the losers that as bad as it is, they could have lost a lot worse. To anyone that thought Andy Reid’s let go was unfair, or that Lovie Smith’s long walk down a short-plank was shocking, here’s 9 firings from the annals of recent history that should put some sweet with the bitter and remind everyone else, especially at this most reflective time of the year, what effed up can really be.
Sometimes, nothing can save a bad marriage, even the good times. Proving no amount of positive things, or Deon Sanders victory dances can really solve a problem when human beings resolve to dislike one another, Dallas Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson and famous (and infamous) owner Jerry Jones split ways after the 1993 season, only four years into Johnson's tenure as coach, and only one year removed from back-to-back Super Bowl wins. The two, once friends, had completely ceased to effectively communicate as they jostled for control to corral America's team. No Cowboy Brokeback Mountain making up providing itself Johnson would go on to a less successful stint with the Miami Dolphins, an even less successful stint on the reality show "Survivor," and a very successful stint as a TV personality for Fox Sports, and a very embarrassing for everyone stint as pitch man for the crotch-boosting product "Extenze." Jerry Jones is still in hunt of a playoff win, and has built a stadium almost big enough for his ego..
In November 2007, after over 30 years in and around hockey as a NHL player and minor league coach, Boudreau was named interim head coach of his first NHL team, the Washington Capitals, a job akin to Matthau's with the Bad News Bears. However Boudreau stood up to the task, erecting a 37-17-7 record from the 6-14-1 standing that he inherited, winning the Southeast Division and that season's Jack Adams Award for best coach. This performance was followed by more division success and accolades in the following two years, but no championship along the way. In his third season, the Caps were routed to the 8th seeded Montreal Canadians losing their last three games in the playoff match up. In the following year, Boudreau's fourth, superstar and sometimes effort giver Alexander Ovechkin helped lead the team to an epic skid, winning just 4 games in the month of November, completing an epic and sad collapse that kicked Boudreau out of NHL coaching almost as fast, but with none of the accolades of his coming to the Capitals. Boudreau would move onto the Anaheim Ducks in 2012 and waits in a league, that at the time of printing in early 2013, has locked out and ceased to exist, proving once and for all just how precious, rare and fleeting Coach Bombay's success in the Mighty Ducks series really was.
In due time, the hooded one might get the Lombardi trophy renamed in his honor. But before he became one of the winningest, grittiest coaches in NFL history, Belichick suffered a few embarrassing firings, including with the Cleveland Browns, a team that not only dismissed him, but literally disappeared from under him. But the weirdest firing for Belichick was the one where he fired himself. In 1999 at the press conference with the New York Jets where Belichick was to be named headcoac,h Bill instead scribbled "I resign as HC of the NYJ" on a piece of loose paper, handed it over, and then took the stage to resign his very brief Jets head coaching career for half an hour. The reason? Belichick departed for New England, which as ratty as it all sounds, seems like good sense. After all Bill is 3 for 5 in Super Bowl appearances and could be on the way to his next. Meanwhile, the Jets only succeeded in tarnishing Brett Favre's legacy with a dick pic.
Because no list of firings is complete without at least a few sex scandals behold the tale of Bobby Petrino. A much lauded Southern-fried college football coach Petrino navigated through the choppy terrain of SEC football with a 75-26 record, including a 4-3 performance in Bowl games at Louisville and Arkansas before showing up to work one day in a neckbrace for the Razorbacks. The question naturally was why? The answer-- Petrino was in a motorcycle accident, alone. The real answer? Petrino was in a motorcycle accident with passenger Jessica Dorrell, a former Arkansas student who he had hired earlier in 2012 to the Razorback staff basically for easy access to all manor of affairings and then apparent cover ups, including a 20,000 dollar Christmas gift. Petrino received a swift Spring pink slip in his stocking.
The Red Sox were so bad for so long that they forced Godless Boston hoods into believing in voodoo and curses, and the Godfearing to flood the Big Guy's inbox with championship prayers. Those prayers were answered in the form of manager Terry Francona and his team of "idiots" who brought a title back to Boston with a magical run in 2004, and then again in 2007. For this Francona was rewarded with an unextended contract in 2011, when the Red Sox suffered a 7-20 September collapsed and allegedly ate a bunch of fried chicken and drank beers in the clubhouse. With Francona dismissed, the Red Sox followed up with a 93 losses in 2012 and one of their worst records of all time, firing another manager, the inept for the time and place Bobby Valentine. Francona will manage the Cleveland Indians in 2013, leaving Boston fans to find their religion all over again.
Keeping in theme, Mike Brown was a defensive guru who turned the Cleveland Cavaliers into something respectable, the best team in the league statistically in fact, using just LeBron James and whatever emerged out of a clown car that was driven up to Quicken Loans Arena nightly. He was rewarded for this with a firing that was a desperate and doomed ploy to keep James in a Cavs jersey. However, this isn't the firing to mark Mike by. At the beginning of the 2012-13 season, Brown was fired after a whiplash inducing 5 games, by his next team, the LA Lakers, for failing to deliver on a roster that included new All-Stars Dwight Howard and Steve Nash. Of which only one of whom was playing, Howard, and with a spine recovering from surgery. The city of LA fell into a talk radio riot, ESPN hailed the return of Phil Jackson with all the accuracy of Jehova's Witnesses predicting the second coming, and offensive inventor and former Suns coach Marc Dantoni was hired with a lot of fan "huh?" only to watch the team descend into a disheartening losing streak in the fog of sport. Mike Brown was pictured just a day after his firing happily eating Chik-Fil-A with a fan on twitter, using some of the millions of dollars the Laker organization continued to owe and still pays him.
In the mid-to-late 90's, the most influential figure on the planet may have been Michael Jordan. Even Bugs Bunny wanted to play with him. But Jordan couldn't have taken the Monstars, or the NBA, if it wasn't for Phil Jackson. But even Phil Jackson has bad days. The legendary coach, with one more championship ring than he's got fingers on his hands (that's 11, Phil Jackson has normal hands), was released from the Bulls after the '98 Championship season by Bulls general manager Jerry Krause who accused Jackson of megalomania, sent staff to press conferences to preach it to the media during the season, and told Jackson the 97-98 campaign, "I don't care if you go 82-0 this year, you're f*cking gone." Krause was right and left Phil behind... behind in LA where he'd go on to coach the Lakers to five more titles, justifying his ego with diamond tipped brass knuckles.
The modern American economy may have Paul Brown to thank for billions of its dollars. The biggest name in the game, the NFL essentially doesn't exist as the creature it is without Paul Brown. Brown came up with everything from game film, to coaching staffs to the helmet with a face mask. Paul Brown even had a team named after him, The Cleveland Browns, whom he was fired from by the notorious team owner Art Modell in 1963. This is roughly analogous to Chester Cheetah being taken out back Old Yeller-style by a Cheeto, or if Aflac was to part ways with that son-of-a-bitch duck. Either way, Brown went on to create the Cincinnati Bengals and Modell went on to take the Browns right out of Cleveland in 1996, perhaps irritated that he could fire the man but not shake the name.
The granddaddy of them all, "Joe Pa" was a beloved figure who coached at Penn State for a grand total of 61 years, 45 of them as Head Coach. He brought two National Championships and multiple Bowl wins to Happy Valley with a 298-136-3 record, making him the winningest coach of all time. President Obama even spoke kind words of him at his passing. Then the man everyone saw as the kindly Uncle was revealed to be the creepy one, with a damn sad and well publicized boys in showers sex scandal involving his assistant coach. The crime went known and unreported in his tenure, sent people to prison, and pulled the university into disarray. It ended up taking Paterno's wins out of history books and even tore down a Joe Pa statue on campus, evil dictator in a liberated land style. There are things worse than losing.