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Where Are They Now? NFL Coaches Fired Last Year

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Eight NFL head coaches were fired by – or mutually agreed to part ways with – their employers last season. If you were wondering what they’re up to now, you don’t have to look far.

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1. Mike Singletary

Last Job: Singletary, the leader of the Chicago Bears’ Monsters of the Midway defense during his playing days, compiled an 18-22 record as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers before he was fired following a Week 16 loss to the Rams.

New Job: Leslie Frazier, who replaced Brad Childress as the head coach of the Vikings, hired Singletary as Minnesota’s linebackers coach in January.

If This Doesn’t Work Out: Singletary is a motivational speaker and an ordained minister, as his former team can attest. In his coaching debut, Singletary famously dropped his pants during a halftime speech. He later explained, “I used my pants to illustrate that we were getting our tails whipped on Sunday and how humiliating that should feel for all of us. I needed to do something to dramatize my point; there were other ways I could have done it but I think this got the message across.”

2. Tom Cable

Last Job: Tom Cable led the Raiders to their first non-losing season since 2002 – no small feat for Oakland – but was fired anyway. Team owner Al Davis later accused Cable, who was 17-27 in his three seasons with the Raiders, of lying to him, putting the team in legal harm, and bringing guests on road trips. “All this stuff goes a long way against my wishes…and against the Raider way,” Davis told reporters. “And I just wasn’t going to take it anymore.”

New Job:

Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll hired Cable as his offensive line coach. Cable was an offensive lineman at the University of Idaho in the mid-80s.

If This Doesn’t Work Out: Cable, who was accused of breaking Raiders assistant Randy Hanson’s jaw during an altercation in training camp in 2009, might have a career as a bare-knuckle boxer.

3. Eric Mangini

Last Job: Mangini was fired after going 10-22 in two seasons with the Cleveland Browns.

New Job: Mangini, who was 23-25 in three seasons as head coach of the New York Jets prior to taking the Cleveland job, was hired to work as an analyst at ESPN. For a guy who grew up in Hartford and went to college at Wesleyan, Mangini should feel right at home in Bristol.

If This Doesn’t Work Out: Maybe he could land a recurring role on Sesame Street:

4. Jeff Fisher

Last Job: Fisher was the longest-tenured head coach in the league before he and the Tennessee Titans parted ways after 16 seasons.

New Job: Fisher, who previously served as the co-chair of the NFL’s Competition Committee, will continue to assist the committee as a consultant. “I wanted to have an opportunity to stay involved,” Fisher told The Tennessean. “I am very close with all the members on the committee and the support staff. You can imagine the time we’ve spent together over the years, it’s almost been like a second job.” The Competition Committee is tasked with recommending rules and policy changes to the league’s teams.

If This Doesn’t Work Out: If Fisher gets the itch to coach again, he’ll probably have plenty of suitors. His son, Brandon, is in his first season as an assistant to the defensive coaching staff in Detroit.

5. Wade Phillips

Last Job: Phillips was fired as the Dallas head coach in November after the Cowboys lost seven of their first eight games. Assistant coach Jason Garrett replaced the Texas native, who led the Cowboys to two division titles and a 34-22 record in his three-plus years at the helm.

New Job: Phillips wasn’t out of work for long. Houston hired him in early January to fill its vacant defensive coordinator position and improve a unit that ranked 30th in the NFL in total defense last season.

If This Doesn’t Work Out: The son of longtime Houston Oilers and New Orleans head coach Bum Phillips, Wade Phillips was born to coach. There will always be another team willing to bring him on in some capacity.

6. Brad Childress

Last Job: Like Phillips, Childress was fired midseason after the Vikings stumbled to a 3-7 record. In his previous four seasons as the head coach, Minnesota won two division titles and advanced to one NFC championship game.

New Job: Childress interviewed for the offensive coordinator position with the Miami Dolphins and later accepted a position as an analyst with the NFL Network. “I may just sit out this year and maybe two years,” Childress told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “But I’ve coached for 33 straight years and if the right position comes up, I’m going to give it strong consideration. I’m a football coach.” Before he was fired, Childress was one of three active NFL head coaches who attended Eastern Illinois University. (Mike Shanahan and Sean Payton are the other two.)

If This Doesn’t Work Out: Childress, who put his psychology degree to good use while coaching Brett Favre in Minnesota, might make a good therapist. He also has some experience as a flight attendant.

7. Josh McDaniels

Last Job: McDaniels went 8-8 in his first year with the Denver Broncos, but was fired in the middle of a disappointing 4-12 season last year.

New Job: McDaniels, who landed the Denver job after serving as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the New England Patriots, agreed to become Steve Spagnuolo’s offensive coordinator with the St. Louis Rams. Interestingly, Spagnuolo was the defensive coordinator of the Giants when they slowed McDaniels’ offense and upset the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.

If This Doesn’t Work Out: McDaniels, still only 35, has plenty of coaching ahead of him. Perhaps one day he’ll return to his roots in Ohio, where his dad, Thom, was a legendary high school coach.

8. John Fox

Last Job: The Carolina Panthers fired Fox after nine mostly successful seasons, including a trip to the Super Bowl in 2003.

New Job: Fox was hired to replace Josh McDaniels as head coach of the Broncos.

If This Doesn’t Work Out: Fox, who went to high school in San Diego, received his degree in physical education and earned a secondary education teaching credential at San Diego State. He’s not ready to give up the headset just yet, but Denver may be the last coaching stop of his career. “I’m not ready to retire to sitting on the beach,” he told reporters during the offseason.

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How Did the Super Bowl's "I'm Going to Disney World" Slogan Originate?
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It’s a Super Bowl tradition as recognizable as catchy commercials, lengthy halftime shows, and mounds of leftover guacamole, but how did the famous "I'm going to Disney World" and "I'm going to Disneyland" slogans make their way to (almost) every big game since 1987?

The idea for the slogan itself can be credited to Jane Eisner, the wife of former Disney CEO Michael Eisner. In 2015, he recounted the story behind the tagline to Sports Illustrated:

"In January 1987, we were launching Disneyland’s Star Tours, an attraction based on Star Wars. After the ribbon-cutting ceremony, my wife, Jane, and I had dinner with George Lucas, as well as Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, who had just become the first people to fly around the world without stopping. It was late and the conversation hit a lull as we waited for our food. So I asked Dick and Jeana, 'Well, now that you’ve accomplished the pinnacle of your aspirations, what could you possibly do next?' Rutan responded, without hesitation, 'I’m going to Disneyland.' And of course I go, 'Wow, that’s cool! You made the right choice.' But my wife interjects: 'You know, that’s a good slogan.'"

Around this time, the NFL playoffs were well underway, with the New York Giants and Denver Broncos set to face each other at Super Bowl XXI. What better time to unveil this new marketing slogan than at the biggest TV event of the year? Once Eisner decided on a time and place to debut the phrase, the teams’ two quarterbacks, Phil Simms and John Elway, both received identical offers: $75,000 for the winner to say "I’m going to Disney World" and "I’m going to Disneyland" to a Disney camera as they ran off the field after the game. This would then be used in a commercial with Disney World or Disneyland being shown depending on where it aired. (This is then oftentimes followed by an actual trip to a Disney park within the next few days, where the spokesperson takes part in a parade in his team's honor). 

Simms was hesitant at first, but once he heard Elway agreed to it, he was on board. The NFL also signed off on Disney’s plan, so now it was up to the company to find a way to get their cameras on the field before all-out madness could erupt. Tom Elrod, Disney’s president of marketing and entertainment in 1987, told Sports Illustrated:

"We wanted it to be authentic, but that meant being the first camera on the field, in the most frenetic environment you could possibly imagine. We’d be competing with broadcast crews and journalists and hangers-on and teammates, just to have some guy look into a camera and say, 'I’m going to Disney World.' It’s wild if you think about it. That first year, I don’t think anyone thought that was achievable."

It’s a good thing the reluctant Simms changed his tune about Disney’s offer, because his Giants beat Elway’s Broncos 39-20. Not only was Simms awarded his first Super Bowl win and the game’s MVP award, he also got a cool $75,000 for uttering two simple sentences (though he had to say both sentences three times each, just to be sure). 

The tradition has carried on ever since, except in 2005 for Super Bowl XXXIX and in 2016 for Super Bowl 50, when no commercials aired (though Super Bowl 50's winning quarterback, Peyton Manning, went to Disneyland anyway).

The slogan now extends beyond football, having been uttered by everyone from NBA players to Olympians and American Idol contestants. And even if they don't wind up in a commercial, chances are a championship team will still be greeted by a Disney park parade, like the one thrown for the Chicago Cubs in 2016

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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Theory Claims Super Bowl Winners Can Predict the Stock Market
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It’s estimated that more than $4 billion in bets (most of them illegal) take place on Super Bowl Sunday, but putting money on the game itself isn’t the only way to make a fortune on football. According to one very unscientific economic theory, the winner of the big game could predict the success of the U.S. stock market that year.

The theory is known as the "Super Bowl Indicator," and it has some simple rules: If an original NFL team (now known as the NFC, or National Football Conference) wins the Super Bowl, that year will be a bull market, meaning the stock market will be up. If a team descended from the AFL (now the AFC, or American Football Conference) wins, it’ll be a bear market, meaning the stock market will fall for the year (as if most of America needs more reason to despise the New England Patriots's '00s and '10s AFC Super Bowl dynasty). The rules get a little more confusing when it comes to post-merger expansion teams like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers—most people leave them in whichever conference they're a part of, while some uniformly lump them in under the AFC/AFL bear market rules.

The AFL and NFL were at one point rival football leagues before merging in 1970. Now just known as the National Football League, the entire league was split into two conferences: the NFC and the AFC. While certain teams have changed conferences over the years—like the Pittsburgh Steelers, who began in the old NFL but are now an AFC staple—the indicator applies to where a team originated (again, with some exception for expansion teams). In fact, the predictor is never wrong for the Steel City: the stock market rose all six years that Pittsburgh won the Super Bowl.

The trend was first noticed in 1989 by the late Leonard Koppett, a sports writer for The New York Times, who thought it up as a joke with fellow writers. At that point, the theory was right 10 of 11 times: "Every year since the Super Bowl was first played in 1967, at least one of the three indices has upheld the formula," Koppett wrote. "Each, individually, has been right 20 of 22 times, or 91 percent of the time. All three have been correct, moving in unison 18 times, or 82 percent of the time."

Its accuracy ever since has been so impressive that even Wall Street has taken notice. Since the inaugural championship game, the indicator has been spot-on in 40 of the past 50 Super Bowls, for an 80 percent success rate.

The offhand observation of Koppett caught the attention of financial advisor Robert H. Stovall, who now acts as the unofficial custodian of the indicator in the world of Wall Street. Stovall knows the whole thing is nothing but superstition, but he reasons: "There is no intellectual backing for this sort of thing except that it works." When Stovall, a veteran in the financial world, would give speeches on investments, he would often be besieged by investors asking questions about the Super Bowl Indicator, saying "that’s what they want to know about."

Investors have a long history with superstitions. Some believe the country that builds the tallest skyscraper is due for a market collapse. Others think the entire month of October is cursed, since that's when markets crashed in 1929, 1987, and 2008. Perhaps most bizarrely, there's also a trend known as the "SI Swimsuit Indicator," which suggests that the U.S. stock market fares better when an American model graces the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, rather than a foreign-born model.

So what does the indicator say about Super Bowl LI? If the theory is right, an Atlanta Falcons win would mean stocks will rise, while a New England Patriots victory should (once again) get investors prepared for a down 2017.

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