Brett Favre: Coach Killer

Article first published as Brett Favre is a Coach Killer on Technorati.

The term “Coach Killer” doesn’t refer to a homicidal maniac whose victims blow a whistle and tote a clipboard. It describes athletes possessing immense talent and the ability to bring such chaos to a team that the organization feels their presence long after they’ve moved on. From the owner down to the equipment manager – no one can escape their wrath.

The Coach Killer’s most sympathetic and least deserving victim is the head coach.

The fate of the head coach often depends on whether he and this competitor can deliver championships to the franchise. Despite his unquestioned skill level, the Coach Killer always carries added baggage, creating obstacles that clutter the path to success.

Rumors of a substance abuse problem, domestic issues, or disdain for authority can contribute to a team’s unraveling. In the end, everyone is forced to accept the negative press while hoping that somehow, they might hoist a trophy at season’s end.

Professional football has seen its share of Coach Killers.

With Monday’s firing of Brad Childress, another athlete takes his place on the “Most Wanted” poster: Brett Favre. From the uncertainty of whether he would even play this season, to the eleventh hour plane trip coaxing him back to Minnesota, to the “sexting” scandal with former New York Jets employee Jenn Sterger; Favre has compiled quite a list of headaches for Coach Childress. Ultimately, a 3-7 record was the coach’s undoing, but Favre carried the pen that signed his death warrant.

Proving that there is redemption, the Philadelphia Eagles’ Michael Vick was one of the first players with the dubious distinction as a Coach Killer. His stint with the Atlanta Falcons that was marred by allegations of marijuana use and sub-par practice habits was eventually brought to an end by federal dog fighting charges.

On the field, Vick was a highlight waiting to happen. His arm strength and ability to run with the football made him a dual threat for opposing defenses. Vick, with tremendous athletic prowess but an inability to execute the designed passing game, was the source of Coach Jim Mora’s sweetest dreams and worst nightmares. Mora was fired in 2007 following a disappointing 7-9 season, just two years removed from an NFC Championship game appearance.

Such is the case with Coach Killers.

Both success and heartbreak come in abundance. Hopefully, when the walls come tumbling down, everyone is able to escape in tact. When there are casualties, the head coach suffers most. During the 2009 season, Favre guided the Vikings to a game short of the Super Bowl, while registering one of the best statistical seasons of his career. A year later, he is embroiled in controversy, looking and playing like an old man, and his coach is unemployed.

Childress endured public spats with Favre on the sideline during televised games. Favre questioned the offensive direction during press conferences, further challenging Childress. Coach Childress had no recourse.

While some coaches would send an insubordinate player to the bench, Favre is a legend, holding a consecutive games started streak that began in 1992 and spans over 300 games. Childress would have been vilified if he broke up the streak with a disciplinary action.

Even as Favre battled nagging injuries that might have required him to sit out, Childress was faced with a decision to bench the aging quarterback or let Favre play. Favre has continued to play but not at an effective level. The team’s record suffered as did Childress.

This will likely be Favre’s last season, but rest assured there will be another highly talented yet equally torturous player to fill his cleats. As long as there are well-trained athletes with rockets for arms and rocky personal lives, there will always be Coach Killers.

(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)


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