I’ve had a theory about the longevity of a certain segment of NFL coaches for a very long time. We will come back to this in a moment.
Los Angeles (nee: St. Louis) Rams head coach Jeff Fisher is rumored to be on the verge of signing a three-year contract extension. This would be despite four straight losing seasons with the Rams (with a fifth likely on the way) to go with his final two seasons with the Tennessee Titans in which he failed to crack .500.
By all reasonable standards, the Rams should have fired Fisher long ago, yet he has not only survived, but he is possibly extracting three more years out of the organization.
That brings me to my theory: Bad NFL coaches with mustaches last longer than they should because of their facial hair and also last longer than their naked-lipped brethren.
Look at Fisher. He just looks like a head coach in the NFL. I think there’s something comforting and reassuring about hearing football talk from a mustachioed man when you’re losing. A bare-lipped Fisher would have been out on his ass and coaching arena football years ago if not for the mustache. I truly believe this.
But that’s just one mustached coach; what about the other bad coaches with a mustache? What’s the best way to go about seeing if my mustache corollary is real and not imagined? How do I know objectively this is true and not just heavily influenced by Fisher, whose record is as poor as his mustache is glorious?
I did my best to set up parameters to keep this study as fair and balanced as possible, because I don’t want to finagle numbers to my benefit. I want the truth. I can handle it.
1. The “bad” coaches, mustachioed or otherwise, are any coach with a career record below .500. If you lose more than you win, that pretty much guarantees you will lose your job eventually. Miraculously, this doesn’t include Fisher, but we’ll get back to him.
2. I only included coaches that got their start in 1990 or later, aka The Mustache Era. I did this because most coaches before that with only a couple exceptions were heavy-set white guys with zero facial hair. Also, there weren’t as many games in a season in olden times. I searched about two-dozen coaches from the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s and the image results were all smooth-faced white guys. Excluding them only serves to weaken my theory — the average sub-.500 coach throughout NFL history logged an average of 39 games; only including the post-1989 coaches bumps it to 53 per game, which is our study’s baseline number.
3. Goatees are not part of the study. There is lip hair there, yes, but we are only concerned with the power of the mustache. If Ben McAdoo goes 11-5 this year and starts next season with a mustache instead of a goatee, he will coach the Giants through at least 2021.
4. I wasn’t sure what to do with interim mustached coaches that replaced fired coaches during the season. In theory, that interim coach wants a head-coaching job and if he goes 1-6 and doesn’t get the job next year, should that count against my theory? Is taking out those guys unfair? To be honest, I already calculated everything with the interim guys, so I left them in.
5. If anyone was omitted, I assure you it was accidental. I did everything I could to learn about NFL coach lip hair, but maybe I missed someone. It’s not like I can reach the Elias Sports Bureau and get mustachioed coach stats. For instance, you won’t see Kevin Gilbride’s stint in San Diego mentioned here because while he rocks a duster now, he didn’t then.