By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Why must there be so much sanctimony whenever an NFL head coach loses his job?
The way people have reacted to Mike McCarthy’s firing this week, you would’ve thought that Packers executives took him out back and went Old Yeller on him. (Spoiler alert.) You might have thought they burned his house down to boot. You may have even thought that the Packers now won’t be paying him the remainder of his $6 million salary to do nothing at all over the next month.
You’d be wrong on all three accounts.
Mike McCarthy, a 55-year-old adult man with millions of dollars in the bank, is going to be OK. He’s going to be just fine.
He’s going. To. Make it.
Was it “demeaning” or “embarrassing” to be fired with four weeks left in the season, as many people have suggested? Did McCarthy “deserve better,” as many people have expressed? Was the firing really “a mistake” and was it truly a “sad day” as Mike Zimmer suggested?
Did we really need to hold a national funeral mass because the head coach of a sinking 4-7-1 team lost his football job? I don’t believe we needed that, no.
The guy held his job for 13 years. That’s more than most people can say in this country. The guy got paid millions upon millions of dollars to perform his job. Again, not many Americans can say that. Most Americans would switch places with McCarthy right now in a heartbeat.
The guy won a Super Bowl in 2010 — huzzah! — but his team has gone 5-6 in the playoffs since then and will now miss the playoffs for the second consecutive year. When that happens, the coach gets fired. Whether it happens on Dec. 31 or Dec. 2 doesn’t make a very big difference in the grand scheme of things.
Plus — and this is really the bigger issue here — we don’t hold these moments of mourning whenever these head coaches unceremoniously cut players off the roster. Players who make much, much less money than the coach does. Players who spend their lives training and practicing and studying and scraping just to earn a roster spot. Players who, when cut from a team, sometimes have little else to fall back on as a means of making a living.
Fumble a football in a game? Cut. Muff a punt? Cut. Get injured in the offseason? Cut. Assault a woman? Cut. (Just kidding, that only happens if TMZ releases the video.) Simply play the wrong position and lose out in a numbers game on the roster? Sorry, but you’re cut.
Shush at the end of The Simpsons? Cut.
Slap an opponent and get ejected before halftime? Cut. (That was a McCarthy special, too.)
These coaches — along with their bosses in front offices — make these unemotional decisions that alter men’s lives every single day of the year. They become footnotes on the afternoon transaction wire, forgotten by the time everyone settles in for supper.
So forgive me if I don’t feel the need to throw up my hands in protest of a multi-millionaire getting fired four weeks before some people believe it would be dignified to do so.
Mike McCarthy’s going to be OK, people. He doesn’t need your vigils.
(Home team in CAPS; Wednesday lines)
Jacksonville (+4.5) over TENNESSEE
There once was a time — long, long ago (2016) — when the idea of a Jags-Titans Color Rush Game was enough to get me geeked up beyond belief. Well, let me tell you this: Now that I’m older and wiser … I am still INCREDIBLY GEEKED UP for a Jags-Titans Color Rush Game.
Oh, and lest I forget: The Jags are back, baby!
Indianapolis (+4.5) over HOUSTON
What a strange season for Indianapolis. Start out 1-1. Lose four straight, capped off with a 42-34 loss to the Jets. Woof. But then, five straight wins. Andrew Luck is back to being Andrew Luck. Playoffs. Let’s go.
And then … oh, and then … a 6-0 loss in Jacksonville to the 3-8 Jaguars.
Maybe that game was the start of another four-game skid. Maybe it was a blip in the radar. But regardless, you can bet I will be the very last person on this earth to accept what is going on with the Houston Texans right now. They’re not a bad team, no. But you’re going to tell me that team is capable of winning 10 straight? No, siree. I simply cannot and will not accept it.
Baltimore (+7) over KANSAS CITY
When you make these picks, you have to be careful to not overreact to the previous week. Things happen. Good teams trip up.
But I can’t help but believe what’s going on with the Chiefs is different. After the Kareem Hunt news hit the fan on a Friday night, you had to figure they’d be affected come Sunday. But fortunately for them, they had a Triple-A team in the Oakland Raiders to deal with. Talk about a soft landing.
And when the Chiefs opened up a 26-10 lead, it appeared they wouldn’t be slowed down at all. But then life caught up to them, and so did the Raiders, who cut the lead to just three points in the fourth quarter. Kansas City recovered to win by seven, but not before Oakland put 33 points on the board — roughly double their season average.
So now put the Chiefs against the NFL’s No. 1 defense and against a team that’s clawing for a playoff spot, and you can’t like their chances. Not by seven. Not by three. Not at all.
New York Jets (+3.5) over BUFFALO
This is a bad football game. Nobody wants to watch this football game. My pick for this football game? I’ll take the Jets, because I don’t reckon the Bills are a good enough football team to beat another football team twice in the span of a month. That being said, still, please, don’t forget my main message: This is a bad football game.
New England (-8.5) over MIAMI
It’s kind of funny, how down so many people remain about the Patriots, because they’re not as good as some of the better Patriots teams of the past five or 10 years. Meanwhile, they keep racking up 14-point wins, after which everyone shares what they’re most concerned with. In the two-touchdown win, did this concerrrrrn you? Just before the Patriots scored two touchdowns in a flash to win comfortably, did you find this to be concerrrrrning?
What a weird thing Bill Belichick has done to this region of the planet. Though no fault of their own, everybody’s brains are all warped, unable to even be remotely happy about a 14-point win because there were moments of concerrrrn over the course of a 60-minute football game. It’s going to be so, so different when (if) Tom Brady and Bill Belichick retire.
As for this game, the only — and I mean ONLY — reason to like the Dolphins is because the city of Miami Gardens puts a voodoo spell on the Patriots on half of their trips to South Florida. It defies explanation, but it does happen. Half the time. The other half of the time? People don’t talk about that as much. But that happens too. So, as a non-believer in voodoo magic, I’ll pick the better football team — the one that waxed Miami 38-7 earlier this season — and see what happens.
New Orleans (-9) over TAMPA BAY
Filed under “Not Overreacting To Last Week.”
CLEVELAND (+1.5) over Carolina
This is a bad football game.
New York Giants (-3.5) over WASHINGTON
Atlanta (+5.5) over GREEN BAY
Now that Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson can play a leisurely round of golf on Pay-Per-View, it’s time to add more random events for purchase. And I’ll tell you, I’d be willing to part with upwards of five dollars to be able to witness the rousing speech that Joe Philbin delivers to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday before kickoff. Maybe even ten dollars.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (-14.5) over Cincinnati
Hard to imagine things being any worse in Cincinnati. So we should all probably expect news of a Marvin Lewis extension soon.
Denver (-5.5) over SAN FRANCISCO
To reiterate a point from last week: I am randomly all in on the Broncos’ winning seven straight games to make the playoffs. It’s the most important thing in my life right now.
(Well, that, and also saying, “The Jags are back, baby!” That’s pretty much what I have going on for me at the moment.)
Unfortunately, the Emmanuel Sanders injury has derailed that hope and dream from becoming a reality. It’s just not going to happen. But here’s hoping they can win one more, against a very bad Niners team. For Emmanuel. (And also me.)
Detroit (-2.5) over ARIZONA
Gotta be concerned here to see if the Cardinals let their overwhelming success go to their heads.
Pittsburgh (-12) over OAKLAND
A SNEAKY tough one, on account of the Steelers dropping tremendously low on the depth chart at running back. (Stevan Ridley!) But, yeah, Oakland, no.
Philadelphia (+3.5) over DALLAS
This is very dangerous, this thing we’re all subconsciously doing. The thing we’re not talking about but are all kind of silently nodding to each other to confirm.
We’re all … believing in the Dallas Cowboys.
It’s dangerous. Very dangerous.
And given the option to zig or zag? I must zag.
At least one of us must not lose our marbles.
Los Angeles Rams (-3) over CHICAGO
Would be a tough welcome back to the NFL for Mitchell Trubisky if he does indeed return. And if he doesn’t? Early bedtime for everybody on Sunday night.
SEATTLE (-3.5) over Minnesota
The Vikings aren’t very good. They’ve beaten the 49ers, Eagles, Cardinals, Jets, Lions and Packers. Those six teams have a combined record of 22-49-1. They play good teams, or even decent teams, and they flop.
Kirk Cousins is also terrible in prime time and he’s terrible against teams that are .500 or better.
So, what I’m telling you: Early bedtimes for everybody on Sunday and Monday night!
Last week: 9-7