Correcting Rick Reilly, Part 2: Rick wants coaches to show less class

Every issue of ESPN The Magazine ends the same way. I absolutely dread flipping to Rick Reilly’s back page column because it usually throws me into a state of depression. I can’t believe that ESPN is paying Reilly what they are when the guy can only produce a good, entertaining column once in a blue moon.

Reilly’s column for the Feb. 23 issue is no different. He starts off with a bad joke.

I’ve been fired more than pottery.


Hey, at least he didn’t shoehorn in some stale pop culture reference. I’ll give him that.

He then runs down his personal employment history, or at least those jobs that didn’t end well.

I was fired from my first job at 12. Some people apparently don’t want their tulips mowed. I was fired from my babysitting gig at 13. Who knew a diaper wouldn’t completely flush? Got fired as a machine/tool rental store assistant at 16. Thought the boss said, “Fifteen parts oil, one part gas in the jackhammers.” Turns out, it was the other way around. Pick-ee.

And how did I react whenever I got canned? Not well. Once, my pals and I egged the offending organization’s window front.

So he performs horribly at his job and reacts to getting fired by vandalizing his ex-employee’s place of business? Nice.

He then goes on about how coaches are too nice after they’ve been fired.

Most of these guys didn’t even deserve to lose their jobs, and they’re acting like they just got handed a freaking fruit basket. Me? I’d go triple Sean Penn! I’d scream! I’d sue! I’d tear paintings off walls! I’d race into the GM’s office and spit on his wife’s photo! I’d snatch the owner’s toupee and set it on fire!

But listen to Tommy Tuberville. He was forced out of Auburn with an 85–40 record in 10 seasons, including seven wins against Alabama. Afterward, he issued a statement that read: “I’m going to remain in Auburn and help the Auburn family however I can.”

If I went 85–40 and got axed, this would be my statement: I’m going to remain in Auburn and watch mailmen deliver the $10,000 of porn I’ve ordered on your Visas to all of your homes. You’re going to regret this until three weeks after you croak. And just try to mess with my pension. I have the Christmas-party video.

Or listen to Edwards. After the season, the Chiefs left Edwards twisting in the wind for a month before letting him go. How did Edwards take it? “I respect the tough decision that was made,” he said in a statement. “I wish the organization the very best.”

Herm, you FIGHT to KEEP your JOB!

Now he dishes out advice for those coaches that have been axed.

The American way is to do what dump truck driver Julian Burnett of Orange County, Fla., did when he was fired last year by his boss, who also happened to be his sister. He drove that dump truck straight up his sister’s driveway and through her garage, which just happened to contain her BMW. Ooh, my bad, sis. You won’t tell Mom, right?

Great example you’re setting there, Rick.

Now he’s going to call out Mike Shanahan…

Of all of them, it’s Shanahan’s reaction that most flummoxes me. He was fired by a guy who is practically his best friend, Pat Bowlen, after a year in which he lost seven—seven!—running backs to injuries…And get this: Shanahan got pink-slipped while he was in the middle of building a 35,000-square-foot home and a new restaurant. Thanks, buddy!

So owners can’t fire coaches if they are building a home or a new restaurant? I’m confused.

But does Shanahan nail Bowlen’s door shut? Spray paint his polo ponies? Snap all his Pings? No, he gets up at the press conference and calls Bowlen “the best owner in sports,” and adds he probably had it coming. “Your job is to win championships, and we have not won a championship in a while.”

First thing I’d do? Tie Bowlen’s tongue in a knot. Then I’d e-mail every suspicious looking picture I had of him to TMZ. Then I’d threaten to tell the media all the secrets I knew. Actually, who needs the media? Shanahan just bought a piece of The Denver Post’s old printing press. You’re going to fire a guy with his own printing press?

Or how about this, Mike? Your new house is only a three-minute drive from Bowlen’s, right? Get yourself a massive catapult.

And a whole lot of eggs.

All right, so Rick’s advice to people when they get fired (for just cause or not) is to freak out. Some might write this whole column off as one big joke, but if that’s the case, I just don’t get the humor. He seems to be serious when he talks about how frustrated he is with the way coaches handle being fired.

It’s called class. If a coach freaks out after the decision has been made to fire him, it’s only going to make him look like an ass. He still has a career to think about. Is he more or less likely to get another head coaching job if he acts like a petulant child? Why would an owner want to hire a guy who is mentally unhinged (or, at the very least, can’t handle adversity) to run his football team?

I can hear the phone conversation between the editor of ESPN The Mag and his boss right now…

Editor: I just read Rick’s column, and…um…it doesn’t really make any sense.
Boss: How do you mean?
Editor: Well, the premise is, I guess, that Rick thinks that coaches should freak out when they’re fired.
Boss: Is it funny?
Editor: Not really.
Boss: Do you have any idea what we’re paying this guy?
Editor: Yes. And I think it’s way too–
Boss: Then run the f*cking column! I don’t care if it makes sense! (click)
Editor: (sigh)

Related content: Correcting Rick Reilly, Part 1: Rick should stop trying to be funny

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