“Black Monday” as most of the media outlets like to call it. However within the ranks nobody ever refers to the day after the last regular season game as “Black Monday”. That’s a contrived moniker for another day at the office in the National Football League. Part of what makes professional sports appealing to both the fans and the media is the undertow of critical judgment that comes with the job, “Black Monday” included.
Our right to critique
I’m not sure where the roots of that perceived right come from? I suppose if you go back to the days of the Gladiators and the thumbs up or down approach of saving a combatant, there might be some sort of morbid parallel. The demands on professional athletes and coaches have always been somewhat like those ancient days in Rome. I think we put more pressure for performance on our quarterbacks and wide receivers than we do our senators and congressmen. Perhaps more research and thought goes into the criticism.
Today’s fan is more educated and informed than ever before. I’ve found many that probably have a better handle on the strategies and tactics of coaching, the fundamentals of front office management, and the overall understanding of the business than many within it. Competition throughout the various media outlets and avenues has stretched the limits of 24/7 coverage to where there is no delineation between offseason and on. Owners, GM’s, players, and coaches are under constant evaluation and critique. Perhaps the old adage, “To whom much has been given, from him much will be expected,” best describes the environment in which NFL front office management works.
The sting of rejection
And so it goes. Those of us that have been lucky enough to engage a career in a game that we played as kids fully understand the ramifications and realities that come from within the arena. However none ever truly expect that it will happen to them. Just as a running back turns the outside corner with the confidence that both ACL’s will never fail him in his time of need, so does the coach or GM who feels he has the answers to get his team to the Super Bowl.
I’ve been on the other side of “thumbs down”. Yes, it can be as painful as a sword piercing your side. As the wake of “Black Monday” begins to dissipate through the week and into the new year, remember that those given the proverbially “pink slip” by and large were doing their best and in the best way they knew how. We haven’t even cleared the carnage and the speculation of the new crop of coaches and NFL front office managers are already being compiled. Focus has begun on next season, try not to lose sight of those that fought for you in this past one.
For every coach and General Manager that lost their job, so did their wife and kids. So did their family and friends. Lives are suddenly turned upside down. Schools are changed, “For Sale” signs posted, boxes packed. I know you’ll say it comes with the territory and you’re right, it does. But it doesn’t make it any easier. Reality for all of us is sometimes a hard thing to face. Keep in mind that no one in the NFL sets out to be unsuccessful and most everyone wants to do their best to please the fans and those that cover the game.
This is professional football, a business like many others and in many ways like no other. But those that felt the “thumbs down” of “Black Monday” are people – just like you and me.