December 31, 2012

Black Monday: 7 NFL coaches, 5 GMs get fired

Th Associated Press

Quite a day for NFL sacks.

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In a Dec. 23, 2012 file photo Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith watches his team during the first half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals in Glendale, Ariz. The Chicago Bears have fired coach Lovie Smith after the team missed the playoffs for the fifth time in six seasons. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

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In this Dec. 30, 2012, file photo, San Diego Chargers head coach Norv Turner leaves the field at the end of the first half of an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders in San Diego. The Chargers fired Turner and general manager A.J. Smith on Monday, Dec. 31, after missing the playoffs for the third straight season. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

Seven coaches and five general managers were fired Monday in a flurry of pink slips that were delivered the day after the regular-season ended.

There could be more, but so far the sent-packing scorecard looks like this:

Andy Reid in Philadelphia, Lovie Smith in Chicago, and Ken Whisenhunt in Arizona, all coaches who took teams to the Super Bowl, Norv Turner in San Diego, Pat Shurmur in Cleveland, Romeo Crennel in Kansas City and Chan Gailey in Buffalo.

Three teams made it a clean sweep, saying goodbye to the GM along with the coach — San Diego, Cleveland, Arizona. General managers also were fired in Jacksonville and in New York, where Rex Ryan held onto his coaching job with the Jets despite a losing record.

Reid was the longest tenured of the coaches, removed after 14 seasons and a Super Bowl appearance in 2005 — a loss to New England.

Smith spent nine seasons with the Bears, leading them to the 2007 Super Bowl — a loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

Turner has now been fired as head coach by three teams. San Diego won the AFC West from 2006-09, but didn't make the postseason the last three years.

"Both Norv and A.J. are consummate NFL professionals, and they understand that in this league, the bottom-line is winning," Chargers President Dean Spanos said in a statement.

Whisenhunt was fired after six seasons, including taking the Cardinals to a Super Bowl loss to Pittsburgh after the 2008 season. He had more wins than any other coach in Cardinals history, going 45-51, and has one year worth about $5.5 million left on his contract. GM Rod Graves had been with Arizona for 16 years, nine in his current position. A 5-11 record after a 4-0 start cost him and Whisenhunt their jobs.

Gailey was dumped after three seasons with the Bills; Shurmur after two; and Crennel had one full season with the Chiefs.

Reid took over a 3-13 Eagles team in 1999, drafted Donovan McNabb with the No. 2 overall pick and quickly turned the franchise into a title contender.

He led them to a run of four straight NFC championship games, a streak that ended with a trip to the NFL title game. But the team hasn't won a playoff game since 2008 and after last season's 8-8 finish, owner Jeffrey Lurie said he was looking for improvement this year. Instead, it was even worse. The Eagles finished 4-12.

"When you have a season like that, it's embarrassing. It's personally crushing to me and it's terrible," Lurie said at a news conference. He said he respects Reid and plans to stay friends with him, "but, it is time for the Eagles to move in a new direction."

Shurmur went 9-23 in his two seasons with the Browns, who will embark on yet another offseason of change — the only constant in more than a decade of futility. Cleveland has lost at least 11 games in each of the past five seasons and made the playoffs just once since returning to the NFL as an expansion team in 1999.

"Ultimately our objective is to put together an organization that will be the best at everything we do," Browns CEO Joe Banner said. " On the field, our only goal is trying to win championships."

(Continued on page 2)

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