Once again the post-season ritual of replacing NFL coaches is upon us, but in these stressful economic times the owners this year have the unique opportunity for a twofer; upgrading their staffs while simultaneously taking care of some down-on-their-luck politicians. Our government leaders love to use football metaphors to describe their challenges and actions so why not give a few worthy candidates the chance to "execute".
Instead of going to the NFL coaching well and hauling up guys who are just looking to pad their resumes--or worse settling for mediocre retreads, let's tap the political draft pool. What might the ideal staff look like?
Starting with the head coaching position, two names immediately ooze to the surface; embattled Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich and former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer. Both have the requisite executive experience and neither has shown any aversion to making controversial decisions. Blagojevich's latest, the appointment of Roland Burris to the U.S. Senate, demonstrates just the kind in-your-face attitude that commands respect in the NFL. He has proven experience in dealing with a hostile press and his innovative pay-for-play reverse signing bonus would revolutionize the salary negotiation process. But what makes him the hands-down favorite is his refusal to concede defeat even in the most dismal circumstances. There is of course the lingering distraction of potential indictments but that could be handled under a simple month-to-month contract.
While he might grumble Governor Spitzer is probably better suited for offensive coordinator (no matter what, based on his recent comments he would probably find the post more satisfying than reporting for an online magazine). He's certainly offensive enough plus he's gutsy; not afraid to take chances that others would view in hindsight as reckless. His slashing, critical style would rein in cocky super stars and cow power-hungry refs. And his off-field shenanigans could potentially invigorate hackneyed football jargon; illegal contact, two-minute drill and trick play for example.
For defensive coordinator there is the blitzmeister himself, former U.S. Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld. Drawing on an extensive list of "known knowns" from his Iraq adventures he would assemble a coalition of pass rushers and tacklers capable of inflicting shock and awe on an offense. His battlefield-tested experience on hostile turf would be an invaluable asset for away games and if the need ever arose to protect his head coach, he has demonstrated the willingness and dedication to "take one for the Gipper". The Rummy was in charge of the largest and most sophisticated defense organization in the world. How tough could it be for him to find the next Michael Strahan.
Rounding out the assistants is the special teams coach. Several worthy candidates come to mind but perhaps the guy who most needs an upper is former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens. His colleagues in Congress soundly defeated his bridge to nowhere, then there were those unfortunate felony convictions and finally as if 40 years in public service meant nothing, his constituents in Alaska unceremoniously booted him out of office. Okay, maybe you could do better but he's feisty enough to turn in a credible performance until someone better comes along…or until his appeals run out.
Finally there is the position of General Manager. This job requires a shrewd strategist who can see the bigger picture while making difficult personnel decisions unencumbered by conscience or feelings. He must be able to act as the force behind the owner, the person in the shadows quietly but ruthlessly manipulating the strings of power without the need for popularity or limelight. There is only one candidate with this rare combination of compulsive, Machiavellian instinct…yes, I'm talking about former Vice-President Dick Cheney.
Well there you have it, possibly the most driven football coaching staff ever assembled. As with any recruiting effort there could be some hold-outs but I'm certain that if you got Cheney on board first, his no-nonsense approach to persuasion would break down any opposition. Then it would be just a matter of sitting back and watching them methodically shred opponents on their way to Miami next February.