NFL tragedies cast a shadow on Eagles, Chiefs and Cowboys coaching jobs

The NFL season's share of tragedies should help put football and scores into perspective.

Photo: AP

OKLAHOMA CITY, December 9, 2012 —The 2012 NFL regular season is coming to its conclusion and the hot seat is getting hotter for head coaches. Speculation is already starting about who will get fired and who will retain their jobs. 

Add to this uncertainty, the impact of four deaths upon three teams, the Philadelphia Eagles, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Dallas Cowboys. Will the recent personal tragedies influence how owners make their coaching decisions?  

There had already been rumblings about coaching changes in the Cowboys, Eagles, Chargers, and Jets among others. Reports say Oakland Raiders head coach Dennis Allen will be back next year, even though the Raiders show no  indication they will ever be good again.

The Philadelphia Eagles are currently on an eight game losing streak and all fingers point to head coach Andy Reid as the fall guy. Reid has been the coach of the Eagles since the 2001 season and has led the Eagles to the Super Bowl and multiple NFC Championship Games; however, he has never won a Super Bowl ring.

Reid’s job has been on the line for several years now, but every year he keeps coming back. Two years ago, when the Eagles looked like they were Super Bowl contenders with Michael Vick at QB, they skidded into yet another losing season. 

Last year, the team went shopping, picking up multiple free agents. Optimism was so high they were dubbed the “Dream Team” in the preseason. 

Prior to the start of the current season, Reid’s son Garrett died of a heroin overdose. Reid took a short leave of absence but returned to the team to fulfill his coaching duties. 

With every loss, the Philly fan’s displeasure grows louder, but Reid still has not lost his job. This week, Reid fired his defensive line coach, Jim Washburn, only to hire his old assistant Tommy Brasher. There are reports that Washburn was disloyal and needed to go, but to many people this sounds like a hollow effort to shift blame away from the head coach to other coaching staff.  

By now everyone has heard the story about Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher who killed his girlfriend, then drove to the Chiefs facility and killed himself. It has been reported that Chiefs head coach Romeo Crennel and General Manager Scott Pioli tried to help Belcher before witnessing his suicide.

Speaking purely in football terms, the Chiefs’ season has been bad. By all accounts, Pioli has not done a very good job as GM, winning only two games. The fans are calling for him to be fired. Crennel, on the other hand, is only in his first full year on the job and doesn’t seem in danger of losing his job. 

Both Reid and Pioli have performed under expectations, but both have been a part of enormous tragedies.

Pundits say sports is a business. But teams are also considered a family. This is not to suggest that football or a coaching job is more important than human life, but can you fire someone who has gone through what these guys have gone through?

Reid has arguably not done a good job as a coach, but is it worth making a human being’s life worse by letting him go after his son dies?

Pioli witnessed Belcher’s suicide after the middle linebacker thanked Pioli for all he has done for him. This will affect him for the rest of his life.

Just when you thought nothing else could happen, word comes out of Dallas that nose tackle Josh Brent is being charged with intoxicated manslaughter after an accident that killed scrimmage teammate Jerry Brown.

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett’s job has been questioned as well. This incident, while tragic, is a little different than the other two. 

Losing a member of the team, especially at the hands of a teammate, is horrible. Not to minimize the impact it could have on Garrett’s life, but this isn’t as personal as having a son die or watching a player kill himself.

The question now is whether these men will retain their jobs and whether the tragedies will play a part in that decision by the head office.  


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Jason Black

Jason Black is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma where he recieved a B.A. in Journalism.  While at OU he served as Sports Director for the University television station.  He has recieved multiple awards for public speaking and comedy.

He appears weekly on 18 radio stations across the country and also writes for the magazine distinctly Oklahoma.

Growing and living in Oklahoma for almost his entire life, Jason has a passion for all sports mixed with a little pop culture.

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