Coaching Perspective: End of Era Gives Light To New Generation
It takes a great deal of patience to become a coach at the professional level. That amount of patience, mixed with even more talent, can provide the necessary building blocks to lay the foundation for a lasting tenure with a single franchise.
Over the last three consecutive seasons of baseball, football and basketball, we have seen the three longest standing coaches at one location replaced in their duties.
First, Bobby Cox said goodbye to the Atlanta Braves and Major League Baseball when he announced his retirement during the 2010 campaign. Then, Jeff Fisher was relieved of his duties as the Tennessee Titans head coach, and in doing so, ended his legacy of longevity.
Finally, Jerry Sloan shockingly walked away from the National Basketball Association when he announced he was stepping down from his duties as the Utah Jazz head coach.
Bobby Cox has been around the game of baseball for much longer than most of us can recall. Before he was a manager, he played in the minor leagues for several years and eventually had a short stint in the bigs.
He started managing in 1971 as a part of the Yankees farm system and worked his way through the ranks before ultimately taking over the Atlanta Braves management role in the 1990 season.
His storied success in Atlanta is well documented and he reached the pinnacle of the sport in 1995 when the Braves won the World Series. Bobby Cox was with the Braves for 21 years before he stepped down after the 2010 season.
Which coach had the better career?
In the middle of the 1994 NFL season, the Houston Oilers promoted Jeff Fisher to lead the team during the final six games of the season, a job he would keep for many years to come.
His coaching career has spanned the relocation of a franchise in which the team became known as the Tennessee Titans, and a Super Bowl loss where the team fell a yard short of victory. His tenure lasted 17 years and he has recently been fired as the franchise was looking for another perspective.
The game of basketball has never been the same since Jerry Sloan stepped into it as a coach and player. Although his professional career was cut short due to knee injuries, his coaching career lasted to see 22 seasons, all with the Utah Jazz, including his first in 1988 after the retirement of Frank Layden.
Sloan, much like Cox, reached the pinnacle of his sport in taking the Utah Jazz to the NBA Finals in 1997 and 1998. However, he was unable to lead his team past the the Michael Jordan-led Bulls. Sloan abruptly ended his coaching career just after signing an extension, admitting he was lacking the energy.
Each of these greats have seen the likes of players such as Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, Eddie George, Steve McNair, John Stockton and Karl Malone to propel their coaching careers. As each has seen success, they have also felt failure along the way.
Just because they are no longer in a place we have grown accustom to remembering them at, they will never be removed from the history of their respective sports.
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