New Year's Eve was notable as the day that our Washington lawmakers struggled not to send the nation over the fiscal cliff. But Monday was also when many professional football owners decided to hurl their organizations over another sort of precipice, the coaching cliff. Experience shows that most of these owners were sending their outfits off into an abyss from which they will be lucky to emerge any time soon.
New Year's Eve this year was what is known in the NFL as black Monday, the first day after the end of the regular season, when owners who have decided to change coaches generally do their firing. This year, nine of the 20 teams that did not make the league's playoffs released their coaches and/or general managers on Monday, quite a mortality rate when you consider that a few more might still get the ax as owners continue to ponder their teams' futures.
Most NFL owners have a track record of success in other businesses, and a few of them run teams that have been in their families for generations. Neither background seems to guarantee success in big-time sports, where team executives often manage with their hearts instead of their heads. That approach rarely pays off on the field.