The Detroit Lions and Tennessee Titans both fired major components of their football teams this past week. Firing people is easy. Then you wake up the next day, the media is gone, the talk radio “attaboys!” have died down and you have to resume going about trying to win games in the NFL.
Which we all know, is damn hard on a good day.
Only in the NFL do franchises panic like this, based solely on record. Baseball teams have strung together back-to-back-to-back 100+ loss seasons – Nats (102, 103), Astros (106, 107, 111), and Royals (104, 106, 100) – in an effort to turn things around and get good. They didn’t blink an eye doing it. But a bad team with a rookie QB panics just because they are 1-6? They should be glad! They’ve got Mariotta AND they’ll be back up at the top of the draft next spring!
The Lions went 11-5 last year, and should have beaten the Cowboys on the road last year in the playoffs except for a bad call. They lost a game this year on another botched call, and several other close ones. So yeah, FIRE THOSE BUMS! You’ll notice the teams that can keep their hand in the fire longer than the media and fans want, tend to end up being rewarded in the end. The Giants and Steelers are models of consistent and conservative management. Even the Bengals could have fired Marvin Lewis in search of somebody “better” after a few very bad years. But they didn’t. Because they at least understand that winning is hard, but losing is easy – especially when you start firing people in a panic.
Even though ESPN laid off some 350 people and scuttled Grantland, it hardly means they aren’t still pursing ambitious new projects. Now, apparently, ESPN has begun to investigate domestic violence incidents involving NFL players. In an ESPN.com piece by Ian O’Connor that – shocker! – says Johnny Manziel should be impounded in Goodell’s “Let’s Make this Go Away” parking lot of complicated domestic violence cases, the four-letter cost-cutting cable network in the Connecticut woods was apparently not satisfied with local law enforcement closing the case without even giving anybody a ticket. So ESPN – as you will see in the piece – decided to start calling witnesses to the argument, and cross-checking their statements with what ended up in the police report. They even called the officer on the scene who wrote the report. He declined to comment. It’s lunacy. Is this new ESPN policy? Don’t take law enforcement at its word? Constant investigations? Will ESPN do this with all athlete crimes, or just domestic violence? All sports? Or just the NFL? Quick, somebody call the ombudsman up there! Oh wait that’s right. They still are without one. Cutbacks, I’m sure.
Ray Lewis is crazy, and a phony. He’s also not very good at all at explaining football on TV. But he remains a star. Get a load of this latest Facebook sermon/rant/monologue about the need for a “new kind of swag.” It’s pure gibberish. This is the stuff of crazy cat lady doing circles in her one-bedroom apartment. So the question I keep asking myself is this: could any other ex-player get away with being a lunatic like this, and still get on network TV? Poor Trent Dilfer. He has to actually watch film and accurately diagnose why some players are underperforming. Could Dilfer cut an un-hinged rant about the need for faster service at the food court and post it to Facebook without people calling the nuthouse?