Most teenage boys dream of being a National Football League (NFL) coach when they grow up. Seriously, who wouldn’t want a job where all you do is talk football and watch games 24/7? I know I wanted that job as a kid. I wanted to be the boss of professional athletes, win five Super Bowls and drive home in my Lamborghini with the New York Jets logo on it. But the fame, prestige and money are only half of the story. The one thing all kids like me overlook is the stress involved with being an NFL coach. The issue of stress has been all over the media after Houston Texans head coach Gary Kubiak and Denver Broncos head coach John Fox were hospitalized after health scares that were likely stress-related during Week nine of the regular season.
Every job comes with a certain level of stress, but being an NFL coach goes above and beyond the pressures any accountant feels on a day-to-day basis. The media scrutinizes and critiques every move they make on and off the field. This past Sunday in the Baltimore Ravens-Cincinnati Bengals game, Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis was heavily criticized for going for it on fourth down in overtime rather than attempting a 51-yard field goal to take the lead. Coaches are constantly under the microscope and need to make all the right decisions to avoid a media bashing.
The media isn’t all the coaches need to worry about; the actual job of coaching is what really does the damage. Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians talked about stress while he was coaching at Temple a few years ago.
“There are times when stress does things to you mentally and physically that nothing else does,” Arians said. “I know that when I was at Temple, my last year I was having three migraines a week, and the day I got fired I never had another migraine. I know what stress can do to you.”
These coaches deal with the pressures of cutting players, coming up with detailed game plans and, most importantly, the need to win games. If a coach is not winning, you can
guarantee he will be fired or demoted quickly.
So is there a solution? Can we find a way to reduce this stress? I think it will be very difficult because we cannot simply take responsibilities away from these head coaches. If we reduce their workload, the team may suffer on and off the field. The only real solution is to make sure coaches like Fox are actually taking care of themselves. If the NFL can get its coaches to take a step away from the game every now and then to focus on themselves, then maybe we can see some progress. Regardless, being an NFL coach is one of the hardest jobs in the world. Had I known that as teenage kid, I probably wouldn’t have wanted to be one.
Contact Charlie Enberg at [email protected]