The Funniest Coaches in Sports
There are enough mean coaches in sports. Good thing we have the people on this list to keep things light.
Every coach doesn't need to be a Bill Belichick. Every coach doesn't need to approach a news conference with an arsenal of eye rolls and condescending put-downs. There are, after all, other ways to shame media members who ask stupid questions—specifically, with humor.
We also have the coaches who keep their players on their feet with the requisite amount of prank-playing. Everyone loves a good prank—even the recipients.
Here are some of the select few who know how to be funny like it's their job.
Just because you're funny doesn't mean people have to like you. Just ask John Tortorella!
Good old Torts isn't exactly a friendly guy, especially from the perspective of the media. He is one of those feared coaches who will belittle you for asking a perfectly reasonable question, and who will make obnoxious jokes at your expense.
As long as you're not the one being expensed, though, it's funny.
There are so many examples of his hilarious ownership over reporters, but one classic is a recent one (above), from the 2012 postseason. Here is Tortorella, then the manager of the New York Rangers, when one fed-up reporter dared to ask him, point blank, why he was so rude in the face of the media.
Tortorella, as always, won.
What makes Mike Tomlin great? He doesn't get rattled.
He doesn't flinch when his team misses the postseason, and because he doesn't, he can easily lead his team back to the promised land one short year later.
And when his Pittsburgh Steelers are on the biggest stage in sports, he still doesn't get rattled. What a guy.
Under Tomlin's watchful eye, the Steelers have won two Super Bowls—one when he was an assistant and one when he was the head coach—and they have compiled an impressive 63-33 regular-season record.
Why? Because he keeps it light.
He tells his players when they're looking good. He asks his quarterback if he knows how to dougie. Upon realizing that Ben Roethlisberger does not, in fact, know how to dougie, he demands that Byron Leftwich teach him.
At least he cracks himself up, even if no one else appreciates his humor.
Joe Maddon is one of those managers who prides himself on being "eccentric." He loves himself because he wears hipster glasses and hits opposing players where it hurts in the name of loyalty and really loves his team, from the bottom of his heart.
Joe Maddon also believes that to win enough games during the long baseball season, you have to have fun. He's proven himself right, turning the once-lowly Tampa Bay Rays from the AL East's most embarrassing embarrassment to one of its most viable contenders.
So maybe more clubs should install strobe lights in their clubhouses. Maybe more clubs should embark upon themed road trips and wear funny bow ties and subscribe to the belief that laughter is the best medicine.
Maybe more managers should wear hipster glasses and be all peace and love. It works for this guy.
Jim Harbaugh can be funny. He can also be psychotic, but if you catch him at the right moment, he can be funny.
During the final week of January 2013, the infamously irascible Harbaugh was in a great mood. His San Francisco 49ers were about to play in Super Bowl XLVII, so of course he was feeling the good vibes.
Therefore, when a reporter asked him what he thought about Barack Obama's claim that he would never let his (female) children play football, Harbaugh attempted to pull out the charm and humor.
Did Harbaugh pull it off? Well, not quite. But that just made it funnier.
Where Harbaugh truly shines is in his temper tantrums, but that's more of an unintentional kind of humor.
It's not fun to be a reporter when the coach at the podium insists upon humiliating you. Then again, that could be avoided if reporters didn't ask stupid questions, but I digress.
Then-Dallas Mavericks head coach Avery Johnson really made a Dallas News reporter pay when, during the 2006 NBA Finals, the reporter asked him what he thought of a controversial foul call against his team.
The best thing about Johnson's response is that he offers it without getting belligerent. He just calmly and collectedly forces the reporter to feel the wrath, which is quite admirable.
Johnson forced the reporter to answer his own question. When the reporter attempted to decline, Johnson really forced him. Johnson would not acquiesce until he got his way. After all, there were people from Israel and Minnesota in attendance.
Legends Division: Herm Edwards
Good old Herm. You could always count on Herm Edwards for a stellar quote while he was still a head coach in the NFL, and you can always count on him for a stellar quote now that he's an analyst on ESPN.
It was Edwards, of course, who delivered one of the most infamously hilarious addresses in the history of the postgame podium. It came in October 2002. He had just been asked by a reporter if his team could win, and he responded with a barely comprehensible diatribe in which he said, "You play to win the game" three times in about 20 seconds.
Edwards' rant took on such a life of its own that it even sparked the publication of his book, aptly titled, You Play to Win the Game.
Legends Division: Mike Ditka
When you think of the most quotable coaches in all of sports, who's one of the first guys to pop into your head?
Mike Ditka, of course.
Ditka is one of those guys who really takes his curmudgeonly reputation to heart and uses it to his advantage. No, really. He's made a second career out of it just by being himself in commercials and on TV.
Let's take this opportunity to revisit one of Ditka's greatest hits—which, incidentally, was provoked by the very question that seems to irk some of our most bombastic head coaches today. Apparently, it doesn't matter what decade it is—coaches don't like being asked who their starting quarterback is going to be when they don't really have any good options to choose from.
The greatest thing about Ditka is that he always told it like it was. When one particularly intrepid reporter asked him why he was in such a bad mood, he responded, "What do you care? If you were 2-7, you'd be in a bad mood, too."
Legends Division: Phil Jackson
When you've won more championships than any other coach in NBA history, you've pretty much earned the right to do or say whatever you want.
But during his two-decade coaching career, Phil Jackson used his power for good. Every coach has shamed a reporter here or there, but at least Jackson was funny about it. Above, we see some of his greatest hits with the always-colorful Craig Sager. Plus, not only was Jackson willing to make fun of the other team, but he was willing to make fun of his own when it wasn't performing up to snuff.
Additionally, we have to mention this accidentally hilarious moment during the 2009 preseason when Jackson tried to fist-pound Kobe but was left hanging and tried to play it off—and failed miserably.
What a funny guy.
Pete Carroll has plenty to smile about lately. In the three years he's been in Seattle, the Seahawks have made the playoffs twice, and with Russell Wilson under center, the future—for once—looks bright.
It's only natural for him to feel like a bit of a jokester lately, even at his own expense.
Carroll didn't arrive in Seattle sans controversy. In fact, he left his lucrative, fruitful position at USC to return to the pros after several unsuccessful stints in the NFL. Moreover, he left USC right as it was coming under fire for potential NCAA violations. Some saw Carroll's departure as a bit too convenient.
Carroll is aware. And he's unafraid to make fun of himself. Check out this link to see his Funny or Die video.
The Phillies must have gotten sick of Charlie Manuel's hilarity. Perhaps that's why they fired him earlier this month.
Well, not really. He served as a scapegoat for the Phillies' fourth-place standing in the NL East. But nevertheless, we can take this time to appreciate the humor of one of the greatest managers in franchise history.
As part of Manuel's now-defunct weekly show, he did a segment entitled "Yo Charlie" in which fans had the opportunity to ask him questions. As you may imagine, some of the questions were rather stupid, but Manuel did the best he could to answer them.
The best question in this segment came from a fan who asked him what he liked to do at the beach. Manuel responded, "Mostly I lay in the sun or walk." Then, he cracked himself up by adding, "Probably look at women."
It's always great when coaches who are better known for their sour attitudes and perpetual scowling do something hilarious.
One of the biggest storylines of the 2013 NFL preseason has been the drama over whether or not Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III will get into an exhibition game. Popular opinion has indicated that he won't because the last time he was on the field in January, he was crumpled to the ground in agony after tearing his ACL.
After an allegedly unbelievable recovery, RGIII has made no secret about the fact that he wants to play. And as Washington's first preseason game loomed, head coach Mike Shanahan made no secret of the fact that it would be insane to risk injury to his prized QB before the games even started to count. The butting of heads resulted in some awkwardness—until the first quarter of the first exhibition game against the Steelers.
As RGIII approached him on the sidelines, Shanahan—with a straight face—asked RGIII if he wanted to get in the game. After RGIII erupted in euphoria, Shanahan told him he was joking.
A smile looked rather unnatural on Shanahan, but perhaps that further explains RGIII's half-bewildered, half-enamored reaction to the prank.
Terry Francona is one of those managers who never allows himself to get rattled by the media. Often, he is downright chummy with reporters and commentators, even during those ridiculous times he was forced to answer asinine questions in the middle of a game.
An excellent example came in September 2011, which you may remember was right in the midst of the biggest September collapse in MLB history. When your team is spending every night finding newer and more creative ways to blow a division lead, you have to keep things light, right?
Right. So when NESN broadcaster Don Orsillo asked Francona about the "climate of his clubhouse" as the players continued to blow it night after night, Tito fired back with a typical Tito-y response:
"Sixty-eight, 70 degrees?"
During the better times, former Celtics head coach and current Clippers head coach Doc Rivers always found time to joke around with his players behind the scenes.
Those glory days—when Doc still liked coaching the Celtics, and when Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce still liked being Celtics—are gone, but we can all relive them together right now.
As the Celtics prepared to face the Warriors at Golden State in 2011, Doc challenged his players to name Boston's starting lineup the last time they managed to win there. Of course, Pierce stepped in to accept the challenge, and it's unclear whether or not he succeeded because of the commotion that ensued, which makes it even funnier.
Gregg Popovich is definitely not funny in a knee-slapping sort of way. He's very dry, but he is very effective.
Somehow, Popovich manages to perfectly toe the line between being an outright jerk and being completely hilarious. It's an art, and he has mastered it.
There are several examples of his humor in this treasure from April 2010, which came in the midst of a first-round playoff series between the Spurs and the Dallas Mavericks—but the best one comes at around the 30-second mark, when a reporter embarks on a quest to ask the longest, most directionless question in the history of mankind.
You can see Pop's annoyance right on his face, but after he answers the question, another reporter gleefully remarks, "Your answer was about 14 times shorter than his question!" And they proceed to shame the poor guy together.
Sometimes, though, it's deserved.
Ozzie Guillen has never been one to keep his thoughts to himself. More often than not, this backfires—but the former Marlins manager and currently unemployed loudmouth certainly has had his moments.
When he was still managing, Guillen never held back—in person, on Twitter, on the radio…anywhere. There was the time in February 2010 when, still managing the White Sox, he tweeted, "i'm already boreddddddd" on the third day of spring training. In May 2008, he went on a tirade against his own employer, calling White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf the worst owner in baseball. Always a good move.
And Guillen always held his players accountable. For example, after a particularly brutal loss in June 2009, he asked, "Is the clubhouse closed? We should open it and let them answer why they're so horse (expletive)."
Ozzie Guillen. Always keeping it real.
Last week, Red Sox infielder Mike Napoli made plenty of headlines when word got out that he invited porn star Rachel Starr to one of Boston's games against the San Francisco Giants.
Of course, that raised the all-important question: How many major leaguers date porn stars? And is it a problem?
When Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson appeared on 106.7 The Fan later in the week, the hosts posed the question of whether Johnson's own players could or would date porn stars.
Johnson—manager of a team that currently ranks 25th in all of baseball in runs scored—unexpectedly came back with the one-liner of the millennium: "Well, none of my guys could because we can't score."
Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini is perhaps most well-known for, above all else, his temper tantrums.
So naturally, last week, he used that infamous temper to play an amazing prank on his own players.
Pelini plotted with defensive tackle Thad Randle ahead of time, and they planned for Randle's cell phone to go off in the middle of a team meeting. Obviously, that's a no-no.
As expected, Pelini freaked the F out then left the room and returned with a hammer, which he then used to demolish Randle's phone. Pelini and Randle left the meeting room together and pretended to engage in a physical fight while the rest of the players remained in the meeting room, paralyzed with fear and confusion.
Then, on the projector, the words "GOT YA" popped up, and Pelini returned to thank his dear players for "coming to my aid."
Good to know they have his back if a ginormous defensive tackle decides to strike.
What do you do when you have zero viable starting quarterbacks and it becomes more and more apparent with every day that passes that you're going to lose your job within the next four months?
You make people laugh! Obviously.
That's the tactic Rex Ryan is employing. With the New York Jets in peril once again as the regular season approaches, Ryan has decided to just laugh it up with the people who dare to ask him about a game plan as the season opener looms.
Earlier this week, when asked whether Geno Smith might realistically challenge Mark Sanchez for the starting QB job, Ryan went a bit haywire, responding that he didn't have to answer the question. "I can say anything I want," he proclaimed. "That's the beauty of this country!"
Then, he proceeded to turn his back and re-answer the question, like so. Because he's hilarious.
Oh, that Rex.