“Pro football is like nuclear warfare. There are no winners, only survivors.”
--Hall of Fame receiver Frank Gifford
Frank Gifford may have had Black Monday in mind when he uttered his famous quote. Black Monday, which arrives this coming Monday, is the name given to the day after the last Sunday of the NFL regular season. It is traditionally the day that team owners fire head coaches or general managers that haven’t lived up to expectations. In contrast to "Black Friday," a bargain bonanza that makes you spring out of bed in the morning, January 2, 2012 will be a day that makes some head coaches crawl back under the sheets to hide.
This season, three teams couldn’t even wait for Black Monday to hand their head coaches a pink slip: the Jacksonville Jaguars ended the nine-season tenure of Jack Del Rio after Week 12; the Kansas City Chiefs fired Todd Haley after Week 14 (the following week, the Chiefs handed the Green Bay Packers their first loss of the season); and judgment day came for the Miami Dolphins' Tony Sparano on the same day that Haley was shown the door.
With half the teams in the league guaranteed to finish the season with .500 records or worse, there are plenty of candidates for this year's Black Monday. Among the more likely heads expected to roll are:
· Steve Spagnuolo (3-year tenure), St. Louis Rams (2-13)
· Jim Caldwell (3-year tenure), Indianapolis Colts (2-13)
· Raheem Morris (3-year tenure), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-11)
· Norv Turner (5-year tenure), San Diego Chargers (7-8)
· Tom Coughlin (8-year tenure), New York Giants (8-7)
You’ll notice that some on our list have only been in their positions a relatively short time. Why not give them a bit longer to prove their worth? Each has an explanation: Steve Spagnuolo’s Rams have taken a big step back after finishing the 2010 season with seven wins,and Raheem Morris’s Bucs have been average under his leadership, but after a 4-2 start to this season they have lost eight in a row. Jim Caldwell inherited a very talented team after coach Tony Dungy retired and has even led them to the playoffs each year since he’s taken over, including the Super Bowl in his first year (they lost to the New Orleans Saints). However, the loss of Payton Manning for the season has proven to be the Junga tile that collapsed the house of cards in Indianapolis (sorry to mix metaphors). Having only two wins with a team stacked with talented players whose names aren't Manning is inexcusable.
Tune into the news wires Monday to find out for whom the bell tolls…