Stop going to the booth for coaches

Marvin Holman

There is a new trend in the National Football league these days and I’m getting very sick and tired of it.The trend is for teams that are major losers for years and years to hire coaches from the broadcast booth. This practice is confusing to me and I have a few of reasons why.

Reason one: The St. Louis Rams hired Dick Vermeil last week. Unless you really know your NFL, Vermeil was coach of the Philadelphia Eagles from the late 1970’s to early 1980’s, leading them to Super Bowl XV in 1981 before retiring the year after that. Ever since then, he’s been on ABC, working the college football games with Brent Musburger.

So the Rams will dump a coach (Rich Brooks) that was trying to get the hang of things in coaching for a guy who was a coach when fellow announcers Ron Jaworski and Joe Theisman were quarterbacking in the NFL? Very confusing.

Reason two: The New Orleans Saints, a team who, if not for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, would be the worst team ever, pulled off a major coup by signing Mike Ditka, former coach of the Chicago Bears, to replace Jim Mora this week.

This would be a great thing if it wasn’t for the four years of inactivity that Ditka has went through in the NBC booth.

A lot of things go against Ditka’s favor. Unlike the Bears of 1981, which had players that were going to be great, the Saints have no one on their current squad (except offensive lineman William Roaf) that could even make the practice squad on that 1981 team.

Another bad factor is the men who have been Saints head coaches. It drove Mora crazy in the middle of the season, leading him to retire; it made Hank Stram, who took the Kansas City Chiefs to victory in Super Bowl IV retire; and it made Bum Phillips, who made Houston competitive in the late 1970’s, retire.

Therefore, it takes some patience to be Saints coach, and Ditka dosen’t have it.

Reason three: History is against them.

Last year, the Miami Dolphins pulled off a miracle, hiring Jimmy Johnson from the FOX and HBO booth to replace Don Shula.That was a disaster. The Dolphins were very disappointing, losing to teams that they should not have and then Johnson gave up impact players like Keith Byars to other teams that became competitors for the Super Bowl.

I just hope that these men who supposedly retire understand that stress sent them to the booth in the first place and the only reason that these teams want these coaches is for the money. Observe that the Saints have sold 200 season tickets just because of Ditka’s name, 198 more than they did last year.

So, for the teams that I have mentioned, just go with the old system of hiring: hire a college coach or an assistant coach that really deserves a shot. If this continues, the NFL will be run by Joe Gibbs and gasp! — Jerry Glanville instead of a bright young guy who deserves a chance.