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GrudenFan63

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: November 14, 2006, 11:33:14 AM

This is an article from last year, but it's an interesting look at how stressful head coaching can be in the NFL. Gruden's probably experiencing a little bit of this right now as well.  ;)

Will a coach work himself to death?
Ira Miller

Sunday, October 16, 2005

What's most notable about the illness that put Rams coach Mike Martz in the hospital is not that he was forced to leave the team, but that it doesn't happen to more NFL coaches.

Martz, who will miss the Monday night game at Indianapolis and several more, is the first coach forced to miss games due to illness since Atlanta's Dan Reeves underwent heart bypass surgery near the end of the 1998 season.

Being a coach in the NFL is, of course, not the world's only stressful job. But there are precious few other jobs in which the normal work week consists of 16-hour days, seven days a week, and your performance is scrutinized each week by millions.

Already this season, three assistant coaches went to a hospital for various ailments. Seattle defensive coordinator Ray Rhodes sustained a mild stroke and still is on a reduced workload. Paul Boudreau, Jacksonville's offensive line coach, collapsed after a game and was treated for dehydration. Green Bay offensive coordinator Tom Rossley went to a hospital after a game after experiencing chest pains.

Mike Holmgren, Seattle's head coach, checked into a hospital during the offseason after complaining of tightness in his chest following a mini-camp practice. Green Bay's Mike Sherman checked himself in last year for severe chest pains. Tampa Bay's Jon Gruden and Carolina's John Fox have high blood pressure. Bill Parcells and Joe Gibbs have undergone heart procedures.

"I think we're all wired a certain way," said Holmgren, whose wife, Kathy, is a cancer survivor. "We're all very competitive. ... With me, my life kind of changed a little bit when Kathy got cancer. And I kind of said, 'OK, let's reevaluate here just a little bit.'

"I try to incorporate what I do (as a coach) with things that are very, very important to me off the field. I've got a great coaching staff, so I don't have to micro-manage. I really don't. ... But you still are who you are, and you are in this to win, and there's no easy answer."

"You can magnify by a hundred times the stress of anybody else in the jobs these guys have," said Bob LaMonte, an agent who represents eight NFL head coaches, including Martz and Holmgren.

"It is almost an impossible task. I literally told Mike Martz that if he didn't shut it down, that he'd be dead. Not that he wouldn't feel well, not that he would feel weak after the game, but that he'd be dead. Because, short of that, I don't believe he would have shut it down."

Football coaches work nutty hours. Years ago, more of them used to at least allow some down time during the offseason but even that has been chipped away through the years by the introduction of free agency and the explosion of mini-camps and off-season conditioning programs.

And, even in the supposedly less-frenetic days, coaches got run down. **CENSORED** Vermeil coined the term "burnout" when he left the Eagles after the 1982 season. Mike Ditka had a heart attack in 1988.

On the February day after the Patriots won their second of three recent Super Bowl championships in 2004, Bill Belichick walked into the winning coach's press conference and, in all seriousness, said, "We're already four weeks behind" in preparing for the next season.

The NFL burns through others, too -- personnel people and scouts live a difficult existence -- but the coaches are the most visible. And it's the coaches who are under the most intense heat. While it's often publicized that the average career span of an NFL player is less than four years, what's less known is that the average career span of a head coach is even shorter than that.

Among the league's 32 current head coaches, only three have been on the job for at least a decade, and 15 began this season with no more than two consecutive seasons with their current team.

LaMonte was with Martz the day before the Rams opened the season against the 49ers, and noticed that Martz was feeling so ill he couldn't even sit up in a chair to script his game plan. LaMonte said, "He could barely hold onto the paper. He said he had a sinus infection or a flu thing. I thought he looked like hell. The next day, he almost fainted in the locker room."

In fact, the bacterial infection near Martz's heart, endocarditis, does bring on flu-like symptoms. Coaches and players are taught they should be able to fight through things like that, which makes it tough even for doctors to give them advice.

"All these people have massive, massive overloads physically on their body that a normal person would probably collapse from," LaMonte said. "But they get so imbued in their personality and ingrained in everything they do, that they really don't feel it.

"They feel good doing what they're doing. Doctors are very reticent to talk to those power people and tell them, 'No.' It's not like they're talking to (ordinary) patients, who say, 'OK, just do what the doctor says.' These (coaches) are very powerful people. They don't want to hear they can't perform. With you and me, the doctor would say, 'Go home and get yourself in bed.' With (coaches), they're afraid to tell them to go home, and that only worsens it.

"These guys are literally, many times, walking zombies."

If there is a solution, it would have to come from the league, because no coach wants to be the first to make it look like he's not working hard enough. The NFL could legislate reduced hours, particularly in the offseason. It could negotiate with the players for a defined signing period.

Unfortunately for the coaches, none of that is likely.

"You would have to have ownership just sit down, like you do in corporate America, and demand that these people take time off in the offseason where they can de-stress," LaMonte said. "Because what has happened, in my mind, is the old, 'I'll-outwork-you syndrome,' and I believe that's the fatal flaw in coaches in America today."


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DBrooksIsMyDaddy

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#1 : November 14, 2006, 11:42:21 AM

'"You can magnify by a hundred times the stress of anybody else in the jobs these guys have," said Bob LaMonte, an agent who represents eight NFL head coaches, including Martz and Holmgren.'

This seems idiotic to me.  The most stressful job?  For God's sake, what about surgeons?  Airline pilots?  ICU nurses?  I mean, let's face it, it's a ball game.  No one's life is in their hands.  Maybe they just need to get a good night's sleep once in a while.

GrudenFan63

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#2 : November 14, 2006, 11:46:15 AM

'"You can magnify by a hundred times the stress of anybody else in the jobs these guys have," said Bob LaMonte, an agent who represents eight NFL head coaches, including Martz and Holmgren.'

This seems idiotic to me.  The most stressful job?  For God's sake, what about surgeons?  Airline pilots?  ICU nurses?  I mean, let's face it, it's a ball game.  No one's life is in their hands.  Maybe they just need to get a good night's sleep once in a while.


Most of those coaches, if not all, are Type-A personalities. They don't sleep. They don't have set eating habits. They try to "outwork" each other. Those professions you named are precision jobs, and they can become very stressful. The difference between them and NFL coaches, or coaches from any sport, is that coaches generally place that stress on themselves.

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