Has the NFL Media Shortened the Shelf Life of Coaching Careers?

By Christopher Kyler

March 14, 2019

Christopher Kyler is a first-year undergraduate student at Bowling Green State University. He plans to major in Sport Management with a minor in Marketing. Christopher is from Parma Heights, Ohio and is a diehard Cleveland sports fan. He is interested in many sports, but mainly football at the professional level.

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Around and around the NFL Coaching Carousel goes, these days it seems there is always a story about rumors that an NFL coach or coordinator is on the hot seat. It seems the days of a 20+ year coaching tenure is all but gone in the NFL, but what is driving the carousel? The media, at both the national and local levels. This is both a blessing and a curse for coaches in the NFL.

The turnover in coaching reflects a general trend in the media of being less scared of backlash from coaches, and becoming more critical of the topics they cover. For sports this comes at a cost for players and coaches whose livelihood is on the line. That’s how you get national media figures like Cris Carter and Nick Wright saying on First Things First that the Texans’ season would be over if they fell to 0-3. The Texans since then earned 9 straight wins, but had the situation worsened, a good coach like Bill O’Brien would be on the hot seat by now. Already this year the Buccaneers, and Bengals have fired their Defensive Coordinator, the Browns, Cardinals, and Jaguars fired their Offensive Coordinators; lastly the Browns and Packers have fired their Head Coaches. The last firing was most surprising given that he had won a Super Bowl, although he had been struggling to use his players to their full potential.

Tom Landry during his 29-year tenure with the Cowboys won 5 NFC Championships and 2 Super Bowls. His first winning season didn’t come until his 6th season at the helm. After 15 years with the Dolphins, Don Shula, who has the most wins in NFL history, had 4 straight years where he did not have a winning season or make the playoffs. The media has helped to create an impatience in the NFL with a mindset of ‘win now’ which is draining teams, players, and coaches, instead of letting teams gel together and create a chemistry over time. One could point to Bill Belichick as being responsible for this change, since he went from 5-11 to 11-5 and Super Bowl Champs in his second season with the Patriots who have remained the most consistent team in the NFL since then.

The media has every right to criticize coaches, but there comes a point where they overstep their boundaries. They have spoken up and affected how an organization looks at their own employees who come into work every day. But somehow the people from the outside looking in have more of a say on someone’s job security than their employer.

References

Ketaineck, M. (Producer). (2018, September 20) First Things First. [Television broadcast]. New York, NY: Fox Sports 1

Coaches, Records, and Coaching Totals. (n.d). Pro-football-reference.com. Retrieved from  https://www.pro-football-reference.com/coaches/

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