Being a head coach for a high profile sports organization, professional or collegiate, is a stressful gig. Your job is on the line essentially every year. Fans often have unrealistic expectations for coaches who are, intentionally or not, set up to fail. Sleep is a foreign concept to coaches at certain points of a season.
Sometimes, it all catches up.
Coaches losing their minds when speaking with reporters following disappointing results is hardly rare. The all-time great meltdowns are the ones that stick with you long after they’ve been completed. They include what turn into catch phrases that get replayed on sports talk radio for years, and in some cases, objects being hurled at people or at nothing in particular.
Here are the top ten coaching meltdowns in history.
10. Mike Singletary Looks Silly
Singletary, one of the best linebackers to ever play the game, became interim head coach of the San Francisco 49ers in October of 2008. One of his first significant decisions was to send tight end Vernon Davis to the locker room early on in the fourth quarter of Singletary’s coaching debut after Davis committed a silly penalty. Singletary, when explaining his reasoning for removing Davis from the field, famously said of the tight end that he “cannot play with him, cannot coach with him, cannot win with him, can’t do it.
“I want winners.”
About that, Mike.
Davis has since evolved into one of the best tight ends in the NFL. He went for 13 touchdowns and 16.3 receiving yards per catch in 2013. Singletary, meanwhile, works within the league office.
9. Earl Weaver vs. Umpire
Weaver managed the Baltimore Orioles for 17 seasons, leading the team to five 100-win seasons, four pennants and a single World Series victory. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1996 because of his work while with Baltimore.
Weaver was also known for his treatment of umpires during games. One of his more famous rants came in September of 1970 when, after one of his pitchers was called for a balk, Weaver decided to protest the call to the first base umpire. After being tossed for using NSFW language, Weaver decided to get his money’s worth.
He accused the umpire of making contact with him. Weaver threatened to knock the umpire “right on the nose.” Keep your headphones on or turn the volume down low if you’re at the office, and enjoy a truly memorable meltdown.
8. Herm Edwards Cements Spot in History
Unless you have avoided just about all sports programming over the past decade, odds are that you have seen or heard the Edwards rant at least dozens of times. The New York Jets were awful in late October of 2002 when Edwards, the team’s head coach, took to the podium. From there came a handful of seconds that will live on for generations to come.
Edwards on sports: “You play to win the game! Hello?!? You PLAY TO WIN THE GAME! You don’t play to just play it. That’s the great thing about sports. You play to win.”
The Edwards rant on its own makes for fantastic entertainment. Toss in this Jay Mohr take, and it becomes one of the top comedic bits in the history of the NFL.
7. Mora’s Most Memorable
Jim Mora had several rants that could be considered worthy of making this list. My personal favorite comes from his days as head coach of the New Orleans Saints, when he told reporters the following:
“We got our a—- kicked. In the second half, we just got our a—– totally kicked. We couldn’t do diddly poo offensively. We couldn’t make a first down. We couldn’t run the ball. We didn’t try to run the ball. We couldn’t complete a pass. We sucked. In the second half, we sucked.”
This list isn’t merely about personal favorites, which is why I have to rate Mora’s “PLAYOFFS?!!?” rant sixth overall. It starts with Mora calling out his own Indianapolis Colts players. His answer to a question about Indy’s postseason hopes is one that gets replayed literally every NFL season.
6. Dennis Green Doesn’t Crown Anybody
One could see this meltdown coming a mile away. Dennis Green had just watched his Arizona Cardinals blow a 20-point lead against the Chicago Bears in a Monday Night Football contest, and the head coach was visibly unhappy when he stepped up to the podium.
It was only a matter of time before he unleashed his frustrations on somebody.
“The Bears are what we thought they were,” Green begins to explain before his temper starts to rise. “They’re what we thought they were. We played them in preseason. Who the hell takes a third game of the preseason like it’s bull—-?!? We played them in the third game. Everybody played three quarters. The Bears are who we thought they were! That’s why we took the damn field! Now if you want to crown them, then crown their a–! But they are who we THOUGHT they were! And we let ’em off the hook!”
5. Lee Elia Calls Chicago Out
Chicago Cubs manager Lee Elia was fed up with fans heckling his players during games in late April of 1983, when the team was, to be fair to those who made their way out to Wrigley Field, lackluster. Elia gave four reporters many pieces of his mind after a game, in which he claimed that the fans that went to Cubs’ games didn’t have jobs.
That’s only one small part of the rant. The original version has to be heard to be truly appreciated, but be warned. It is very, very, very NSFW.
4. Hal McRae Goes Nuts
Hal McRae was, during his playing days, known as one of the most aggressive baserunners in all of Major League Baseball in the 1970s. He played for 19 seasons in the Big Leagues before becoming a manager, and his tenacity carried over to the clubhouse when he was manager of the Kansas City Royals.
McRae was speaking with reporters after KC lost an April – yes, April – game to the Detroit Tigers. What started out as a standard question-and-answer session escalated quickly, as McRae lashed out at anybody inside of the room. He tossed items off of his desk and into the air, striking a reporter with one of the projectiles.
3. Mike Gundy is 40
Sports fans turning 40 years old forever changed in September 2007 when Oklahoma State football head coach Mike Gundy was notified about a newspaper article that criticized one of his players. Gundy, while sticking up for his player as would any proud papa, claims that “three-fourths of the article is inaccurate; fiction.”
Then came the tirade. After loudly voicing his disapproval for the piece, Gundy issued the following dare to the media: “Come after me! I’m a man! I’m forty!” Last but not least was Gundy’s breakdown of sports reporting.
“It makes me want to puke.”
2. Bob Knight Everything
Former college basketball coach and current ESPN analyst Bob Knight could have his own Top 10 list of meltdowns. That piece would include:
Knight dropping profanities during SportsCenter interviews, and when speaking with the local and national press.
Knight talking about outliving “all of those sons of b—— that didn’t like me.”
Knight showing how a whip is a “great motivational tool.”
A rant about “game faces” that is ridiculous and hilarious.
And last but not least, Knight telling all of his critics to “kiss my a–.”
Knight’s own top ten is a must-watch video. If that isn’t enough for you, perhaps you’d like to recall that time Knight threw a chair onto the basketball court.
1. John Chaney: “I’ll kill you!”
There are rants and meltdowns, and then there are threats to commit murder. Temple basketball head coach John Chaney was furious with the way he perceived that UMass coach John Calipari had manipulated the refs during a game that was played in February 1994. Chaney interrupted Calipari’s presser to verbally attack his counterpart, and Calipari’s attempt to respond resulted in Chaney wanting to throw down.
No fewer than five people restrained Chaney, who then screamed “I’ll kill you!” toward Calipari. Chaney also offered this threat: “When I see you, I’m going to kick your a–.” Such a meltdown would probably cost a coach his job these days.
Chaney was suspended for one game back in ’94.
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