In the basement of the NFL offices, there is a small room used for staff meetings, Bagel Fridays and the monthly office birthday party with the chantilly cream and strawberry cake that Jennifer in legal always orders because she knows it’s Rog’s favorite. Such a suck up, that Jennifer.
Once a year though, this room is used as an outreach center for coaches bloodied on Black Monday at the end of the season. A safe place where they can gather and talk without judgement and fear. The tenor of the room is always a bit bleak, but when Black Monday falls right before New Year’s Eve, the annual gathering of the recently disposed is a tad sadder than usual.
Let’s listen in.
Rob Chudzinski: Awww, peanuts. I’m the first one here. This is just embarrassing. Do I just sit here and wait for the others before pouring a drink? Do I just make myself at home? I thought for certain Kubiak would be here first. Christ, I hope no one thinks I’m hosting and I have to also stay late to clean up this mess.
Andy Reid: [comes out from hiding under the buffet] Oh, hey Chud. Don’t worry. I’m here for you, you’re not alone in this buddy.
Rob Chudzinski: What are you doing here, Fat Andy?
Andy Reid: Hate to say it, but I had a craving for the crab rangoons they served last year and I needed a place to lay low where I’d probably not run into Tomlin. You probably know how that feels, wanting to stay away from Mike Tomlin. Sorry. Heard about Jimmy Haslam leaving the game early on Sunday. Um… Sorry. Crab rangoon?
Rob Chudzinski: [under his breath] Please someone else show up soon. Please. Anyone. Don’t leave me alone with Reid. Anyone. Why isn’t that foot-freak Rex here yet?
Andy Reid: Oh, his invite was dated 2015. Gary! You’re here! Wasn’t sure you’d stop by. Crab rangoon?
Gary Kubiak: Nearly had a stroke this year and you’re two ribs served with a loaf of sliced white bread away from your own, so no thanks. Just stopping by real quick before Schiano got here. Would be be awkward since I’m probably taking his old job.
Lovie Smith: [crawling out from underneath the buffet] Not so fast! You have to get past me first for the Tampa job.
Gary Kubiak: You can’t come to the fired coaches party if you weren’t just fired. This is supposed to be a support group. Get out of here, Lovie.
Lovie Smith: So supportive you won’t be a Schiano Man and look Schiano in the eye? Please. I’m going to take that Tampa Bay job from you, but first I’m going to go interview for your old job first. I’ve got an offensive coordinator ready to go, I’ve got a Devin Hester ready to follow. What do you have? Turning a team to rubble after losing the AFC championship? If it wasn’t for your team’s demise, we might be standing here next to John Harbaugh and the Harbaughs are much more fun at parties than you are.
Leslie Frazier: So this is what this room looks like. Sorry guys, thought I’d be here sooner. Decided to fly instead of driving and got stuck at the airport for too long.
Mike Shanahan: Just like your team. Could have rode a great running back to at least an 8-8 season and instead you threw the ball even in short yardage situations. You’re an idiot, Frazier. Do you know what I could have done with a Peterson?
Jim Schwartz: Destroyed another set of knees? You shouldn’t be criticizing anyone, Shanny.
Andy Reid: When did all these other people show up? Oh dear. Is Mike Munchak on his way? Jason Garrett? Do we have enough crab rangoon? A Schiano Man doesn’t run out of appetizers and THE ACTUAL Schiano Man is still coming. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. Let me shut that door so no one else can sneak in.
/door flies open
Jon Gruden: WILL YOU PIPE DOWN, FAT ANDY. CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS GUY? WE’VE HAD THIS PARTY BEFORE AND NOT ONCE HAVE WE RUN OUT OF CRAB DESPITE HIM SHOWING UP TWICE WHEN HE STILL HAD A JOB.
Jim Schwartz: Hey, I thought you said you weren’t interested in any of the coaching openings.
Jon Gruden: I’M NOT, BUT ONCE A FIRED COACH, ALWAYS A FIRED COACH. WHICH MEANS YOU LEAVE SMITH ALONE, KUBIAK. I EXPECT WE’LL SEE YOU HERE AT LEAST ONE MORE TIME, KOOBS. ALSO I MIGHT TOTALLY BE INTERESTED IN A JOB JUST TO SEE WHAT’S OUT THERE. GIVES ME A CHANCE TO WATCH TAPE IN SIX DIFFERENT FRONT OFFICES AND WHO WOULDN’T LOVE TO FLY AROUND TO WATCH TAPE ALL DAY. NOT THIS GUY, I’LL TELL YOU THAT.
Jim Schwartz: None of that made any sense and you contradicted yourself.
Jon Gruden: THAT’S BECAUSE I WORK IN THE MEDIA NOW AND I CAN SAY WHATEVER I WANT AND THEN CONTRADICT MYSELF LESS THAN TWO SECONDS LATER. ISN’T IT GREAT? OF COURSE IT DOESN’T MAKE ANY SENSE. IF LIFE MADE SENSE I’D STILL BE COACHING IN TAMPA, NOT SHARING TIME WITH THAT GUY WHO SLEEPS IN SPIDER-MAN PAJAMAS, TIRICO. LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT THAT GUY, HE’S NICE AND ALL BUT I CANNOT ABIDE A GUY WHO STILL SLEEPS IN FOOTIE PAJAMAS. STILL IF IT MAKES HIM HAPPY AND HE KNOWS ABOUT FOOTBALL, THAT GUY CAN WEAR WHAT HE WANTS.
Leslie Frazier: Contradicted yourself again and it doesn’t make any sense. I bet Tirico doesn’t even wear Spider-Man footie pajamas. That’s terrible scouting, Gruden.
Jon Gruden: SCOUTING SPIDER-MAN PAJAMAS? THIS GUY, MAN. HOW DO I KNOW? I JUST SAY WHAT THE GIRL TYPING THIS POST SAYS I SAY AND WHO CARES IF IT’S REAL.
Mike Shanahan: I know how that feels.
Jon Gruden: I TOLD YOU, THIS GUY IS IN THE MEDIA AND I’LL SAY I’M NOT INTERESTED IN COACHING, EVEN IF THIS GUY IS INTERESTED IN COACHING. TROY AIKMAN SAYS I AM INTERESTED IN COACHING, SO IT’S STILL UP FOR DEBATE. MAYBE I STILL AM. THAT GUY KNOWS MORE ABOUT FOOTBALL THAN ANY OF YOU EVER WILL. ANYWAY, I’M OUT OF HERE. JUST WANTED TO SEE HOW THIS CLASS OF FIRED COACHES WAS DOING. BY THE LOOKS OF THINGS, NOT WELL AND SCHIANO IS STILL IN THE PARKING LOT TRYING TO FIX A LEAK IN HIS TIRE. OR MAYBE THE LEAK IN HIS MOUTH. SAME THING. THAT GUY FULL OF HOT AIR AND LIES.
Gary Kubiak: Schiano is here? Crap! Everybody hide!
[Entire party hides under the buffet.]
Greg Schiano: Where did everyone go? No way I beat Chud here. Wait, I was told there were going to be snacks here too. Did they eat everything and leave? How rude. A Schiano Man makes sure there is enough for everybody to share. Guess I’m just going to have to wait here until someone comes back with an explanation and some moist towelettes.
[Sound of muffed wrestling is heard under the table. A tiny cry of “Noooo!” is quickly hushed.]
[Tray of crab rangoons slides out from underneath the table.]
Greh Schiano [Biting into a crab rangoon]: This is definitely worse than tracking college football coaches’ flights.