Coaching changes are always slightly smarmy things that we take far too much glee in demanding, reporting and pontificating about ad nauseam.
That is, if you accept the notion that coaches are people too, with families and homes and bills to pay and lives outside the sport.
Of course, few of us either inside or outside football actually believe that. Coaches' jobs are just more collateral damage in a business that is all about collateral damage.
|Instead of wasting the firing of Brad Childress randomly in midseason, save it up for a Black Monday extravaganza instead. (AP)|
Thus, because we always want to see the NFL come up with new and exciting ideas that will entertain, captivate and enrich the audience while inducing them to spend more money on the league's behalf (again, Sarcasm Alert), we think it's high time the league marketed Black Monday.
Black Monday, as you know, is the day right after the end of the regular season when head coaches of bad teams get fired or, in the modern NFL make-the-lie-sound-like-the-truth-while-fighting-to-keep-a-straight-face parlance, do not have their contracts renewed. For purposes of this and all other discussions for the rest of recorded time, let it be declared here and now that if you have a job and the person you do the job for doesn't want you to do it for him or her anymore, you got fired. Period.
But we digress.
Black Monday is now a common phrase among NFLniks and the fact that some eye-pecking hawk in a suit on Park Avenue hasn't come up with this one yet frankly amazes us, but here goes anyway.
The NFL should simply declare that coaches can only be fired on Black Monday. Make it like the draft, or opening day, or Hall of Fame voting -– copyright it, sell souvenirs, the whole NFL marketing blitz. If they can't move "I Survived Black Monday" hoodies at $79.95, Roger Goodell should be "did not have his contract renewed"-ed.
The simplicity in this is so elegant that it is amazing they haven't thought of it yet. This year, four coaches have already gotten it, the latest being Mike Singletary in San Francisco, and the number may well reach double digits by the start of next week. In all, a pretty busy time for those billionaire elves who aren't having enough fun this holiday season.
And if this sounds unduly cruel to you people who think coaches are people, let us point out that the NFL has televised and marketed the combine, in which young men walk from station to station wearing only their underwear, running, jumping lifting weights and taking psychological tests -– ALL ON TV.
Now talk to us about dignity and empathy again.
The NFL is, was and will always be a high-tech meat market, only nobody wears a bloody apron, yells with an accent or waves a cleaver around while shouting out today's special on lamb shanks.
At least not where anyone can see.
In other words, there is no earthly reason why the NFL cannot market Black Monday and make it a network pink-slip festival. Rich Eisen, Deion Sanders and Steve Mariucci (a one-time Black Monday casualty), bleary-eyed and exhausted from the day before, screaming at each other on set trying to guess who goes first and blathering on about why he should or should not have been on the list. Hell, they might even throw some fists to juke up the entertainment value.
The chaos of Brad Childress getting it one week, Josh McDaniels another and Singletary a week before season's end (and, it should be noted, the day after Christmas, a tough pill for such a devout man) cannot be abided in such a regimented and uptight league. With Black Monday (patent pending), the league gets to control the unemployment process as well as the employment process, and make money as the victims leave.
It is, after all, the only avenue of NFL life the league hasn't exploited for cash considerations, and we're surprised this one hasn't come up at owners meetings between arguments over whether everyone will have the club sandwich or the BLT for lunch.
But we are not heartless. It seems only fair that in exchange for being further humiliated by their employers, the coaches no longer have to submit to those revolting buyout clauses that lower their reward for taking a foot up the backside in public. If you get canned with time left on your deal, you should be paid in full. It is only civilized, right and proper to do so, and of course would be the one problem with Black Monday that Goodell and the owners would see in any negotiations on the matter. After all, what's the fun in firing a guy if you can't screw him out of money you owe him?
That speed bump aside, we say it now and loud: Black Monday, a Property of the National Football League, is an idea whose time has come, an acknowledgement of what we all already know and actually enjoy quite a lot.
That coaches, like players, are actually regarded as people only when they're not in the game. But while they're on the job ... well, think of that butcher, if it helps at all.
Ray Ratto is a columnist for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.