Aaah, the lyrics in a famous song, “Should I stay or should I go, noooowww?” That is the question. With the NFL season having wound down, teams eliminated from playoff consideration began the annual “coach shuffle” a little early. In reality, only a few of the coaches hired to be head coaches are new head coaches, most of the others just go around like a carousel.
This year’s shuffle began a couple of weeks ago with the announcement that Atlanta would not be retaining Dan Reeves, and the New York Giants would not be retaining Jim Fassel. How the news got out and the circumstances were very different, but who was right?
In Atlanta, word is that Reeves was told that he was not going to be invited back next year in a not so elogent way. His immediate knee jerk reation was that “…if I’m not coming back next year, then I’ll leave right now, thank you.” In other words, why stick around in a place that you are not wanted, right?
In New York, word came down that Fassel was not going to be invited back next year, but he wanted to finish out the season. In fact, reports are that he essentially begged to be allowed to finish out the string. Seeing no harm in that, management agreed and Fassel was on the sideline since his announced firing.
So who was right? When initial word of the Reeves situation came out, I thought the same thing as he did, why stick around when I’m not wanted. Yet as time has gone by, I’m wondering if this was the right approach?
I have a tremendous amount of respect for Dan Reeves, the guy is old school and has been coaching a long time, so he knows the business. You don’t get 200 wins by being lucky. Yet, I’m not sure that him walking out was the way to go.
Way back in the August, the players reported to camp and the work began to both get in shape, and prepare as a team for the season. Now I’ve never played football, but I can imagine that on a smaller scale, a similar thing happens in most sports from the pros down to high school.
When training camp is over, cuts are made and the decision on who will be with the big club are announced. These are the guys that are going to be on the team, and the coaching staff and players are stuck with each other. Thru thick and thin, these guys are going to be battling in the trenches, through the good times and the bad. The coaches expect the players to perform for them and vice versa.
So when Reeves was told that he wasn’t going to be coming back for next year, he decided to throw in the towel. Since nothing he did could change anyone’s mind, that’s it, I’m taking my ball and going home. No sense hanging around where I’m not wanted. Yet from the player’s point of view, shouldn’t he have taken the news like a man, swallowed his pride and stuck around for the final few games, if for nothing else than for the sake of his players? After all, they were dedicated to him, shouldn’t he have been dedicated to them to the bitter end?
Like I said, I have a tremendous amount of respect for Reeves and really I have no idea what these guys go thru on a daily basis. I do know that it is a tremendous amount of work, much more than I could ever imagine, so yes, I know it’s hard. But they know what they are getting into, and besides that they are compensated pretty handsomely for doing what they do.
And let’s take the whole Michael Vick thing out of the equation here. Yes, he was 80% of the team, but they should have been able to put at least something together and win a couple of games while he was out. The timing couldn’t have been worse, either. Vick comes back for a triumphant return on Sunday night national television, the next day, he’s shown the door. All this is not the point.
When Jim Fassel not only decided to stay on, but he fought to remain with the team until the end of the season, that showed me something. That shows me he’s a guy that is willing to fight to the end for his guys. Granted, he may not have been that great of a coach in the first place, but he started something way back in August and wanted to see it to the end, even if it wasn’t the outcome that anyone desired. He choose to stand on the sideline while the other kids used his ball, waiting for the game to end before taking it and going home. That has to mean something in this day and age of me me me.