No professional sports organization is going to win anything of merit if it does not have a competent general manager in charge. It is the general manager, after all, who hires the head coach tasked with leading the roster, and the general manager also signs off on any and all player contracts. Without Jerry Reese, for example, the New York Giants may not have built those two Super Bowl squads that broke the hearts of fans of the New England Patriots. Reese has recently had a few poor offseasons, so much so that some Big Blue supporters are ready for the club to move on. Pro sports truly is the ultimate “what have you done for me now?” business.
Terrible general managers likely hold two similar traits: They make multiple bad hires, and they don’t last long before they are fired by teams. Some of those individuals merely need a change of scenery, a fresh start and some experience at the position before they find their legs as a negotiator and a person capable of building a championship-winning squad. Not everybody gets things right on first attempts, after all, and it is also worth noting that a general manager can be handcuffed by ownership that is only so interested in spending money on big-name players and intelligent coaching staffs.
Then there are the general managers who are lucky to still be involved in professional sports, let alone hold the jobs that they currently posses. This includes a man who has seemingly hired the wrong NFL head coach and who also paid a quarterback a boatload of money that the player had never earned with his on-the-field play, it includes a member of what has become a front office that is an NBA laughingstock, and there is also a former football head coach who continues to be linked with NFL clubs despite the fact that he is a proven failure as a member of multiple front offices.
10. Mike Holmgren
That old Kevin Costner joke from Family Guy applies here: How does Mike Holmgren keep getting work? Holmgren is undeniably a brilliant football mind, and he was, in his day, a great coach in the NFL. It is in front offices where Holmgren has been a flop, first with the Seattle Seahawks and then with the Cleveland Browns. While Holmgren does not have a job with any club at the end of 2014, he makes this list due to the fact that he continues to be linked with several future openings; most notably the Oakland Raiders. Learn from past mistakes, NFL owners, and let Holmgren keep the money being paid to him by the Browns.
9. Phil Emery
Emery may find himself off of such lists and out of a job sooner than later. The general manager of the Chicago Bears was responsible for hiring head coach Marc Trestman, who has been a disappointment with the club, and Emery announced last January that quarterback Jay Cutler was being rewarded with a new contract; one that guaranteed Cutler $54 million. Yes, that’s $54 million to a quarterback who has never won a championship in pro football. There are whispers that the Bears are already looking to move on from Cutler once his dead money drops in 2016. Emery may not be in Chicago by the time that day arrives.
8. Bruce Allen
Those who would choose to defend the general manager and president of the Washington Redskins would say that Bruce Allen doesn’t have a chance so long as Dan Snyder owns the club. That argument loses merit when you remember that the National Football League utilizes a roster system that includes a hard salary cap. Any owner, even Snyder, can only do so much damage to a squad. Snyder wanting quarterback Robert Griffin III to be on the field as much as possible is only part of the problem with the Redskins, a team that has serious holes on both sides of the football field. Allen hasn’t done enough to turn the club around, RG3 or no RG3.
7. Reggie McKenzie
Here is a thought for some moves the general manager of the Oakland Raiders could make during the upcoming offseason: He could hire another new coaching staff and draft another quarterback before hiring another new coaching staff and then drafting another new quarterback. The National Football League is organized in a way that bad teams are able to turn things around and right the ship in a year or two. McKenzie was apparently not notified of this, as one could count the positive moves he has made as Oakland general manager on one hand. He is one of several people on this list who is on the hot seat as Christmas approaches.
6. Craig MacTavish
When a National Hockey League general manager feels that he has to address his team’s fan base and the media, you know things have gone terrible wrong. MacTavish asked for patience and threw the former regime of the Edmonton Oilers under every bus in the city on December 5 following his team’s eleventh – yes, eleventh – straight defeat. That went over with fans and with media members about as well as one would expect. Edmonton is awful, and there is no sign that the team is turning things around anytime soon. The Oilers are not creating a joyous and bright holiday season for the club’s supporters.
5. Ruben Amaro, Jr.
It seems like it was in another age when the Philadelphia Phillies were last World Series contenders. The ‘Phils didn’t put up much of a fight en route to finishing the 2014 Major League Baseball season dead last in the National League East standings, going 73-89 during a season that was largely missable for Philadelphia fans. Members of that fan base are no longer simply sitting back and putting up with Amaro making baffling decisions that don’t help the Phillies improve and keep up with the top teams in the NL East. Some have taken to social media in an attempt to make it known to anybody who will listen that they want to see Amaro fired as soon as possible.
4. John Idzik, Jr.
It is a rough time to be a fan of New York professional sports, and the story as it pertains to this piece begins with the New York Jets. The Jets are a dumpster fire of an NFL franchise, a team that doesn’t have a starting quarterback on the roster and one that needs a plethora of upgrades at multiple positions. Things have gotten so bad in and around MetLife Stadium that fans of the Jets have paid to fly “Fire Idzik” banners over the stadium, and they have purchased multiple “Fire Idzik” billboards. New York head coach Rex Ryan will be looking for a new gig come January. Will Idzik be joining him?
3. Steve Mills
Congratulations, Steve Mills! You are part of the worst front office in all of the National Basketball Association! Outside of acquiring Phil Jackson to be the king of the castle, the most significant thing that the Knicks achieved in 2014 was overpaying to retain Carmelo Anthony when literally no legitimate contender in the league was willing to offer him a massive contract. That move has thus far proven to be of little help to the 2014-15 version of the Knicks, a side that is one of the worst teams in all of the NBA 20 games into the campaign. The Knicks are once again a disaster, and Mills is not immune to criticism concerning the current state of the team.
2. Sam Hinkie
Teams have to rebuild from time to time. It happens, and it is completely understandable when those instances occur. What Hinkie is doing with the Philadelphia 76ers this fall is disgraceful to the National Basketball Association, to the city of Philadelphia, and to professional sports in general. “Tankadelphia,” as the club is being called, is calling the 2014-15 campaign a lost cause, phoning in games with the hope of getting the highest pick for the 2015 NBA Draft possible. It didn’t work for the 76ers in 2014 because the sports gods are sometimes fair. The fact that the Sixers are an NBA team in name only should result in the league making required changes to how draft picks are handed out to clubs.
1. Jerry Jones
Jerry Jones is the everything of the Dallas Cowboys. He is the team owner, he is the general manager, and he even makes his way down onto the sideline to speak with coaches during games. Jones is the undisputed Czar of the Cowboys, a team that hasn’t won a Super Bowl since the days of highlights being recorded on VHS tapes. Dallas was set back for years when quarterback Tony Romo was given a ridiculous contract by Jones, and the Cowboys are just now recovering from that error. Jones will continue to be near or at the top of such lists until the club at least plays for a championship, which could, in Jones’s defense, be in February of 2015.