NFL Owners Are Committing Age Discrimination

Colin LinneweberSenior Writer IApril 30, 2009

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 28:  A fan shows her support for head coach Jim Fassel of the New York Giants during their game against the Carolina Panthers on December 28, 2003 at Giant Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. This will be Fassel's last game with the Giants.   (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The Cleveland Browns and their new Head Coach, Eric Mangini, created quite a stir last weekend by trading the fifth overall selection in the NFL Draft to the New York Jets for three players and the 17th pick in the first round.

Mangini, 38, brokered the deal with the Jets less than five months after New York’s hierarchy rightfully terminated the stoic and uncharismatic disciple of New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick.

In three unappealing years, Mangini transformed Gang Green into the NFL’s most paranoid organization while “leading” the Jets to a below average regular season record of 23-25 and nary a victory in the playoffs.

Last year, despite starting an impressive 8-3 and having a league-high seven Pro-Bowlers on their roster, the Jets floundered down the stretch and suffered the most embarrassing collapse in the history of their wretched franchise. 

Besides their injured geriatric, quarterback Brett Favre, no single individual was more to blame for the Jets demise than Mangini. 

"The Mangenius" coached timidly down the stretch and many of his in-game decisions made onlookers suspect the graduate of Wesleyan University possessed an extra chromosome.

Immediately following a dreadful loss to the Miami Dolphins, The Penguin was fired as "HC of the NYJ" in late-December.

Inexplicably, regardless of his lackluster credentials, the Browns hired Mangini one week after he was dismissed from the Big Apple. 

Mere days after Mangini again found undeserved employment, former New York Giants coach Jim Fassel agreed to lead the Las Vegas franchise of the newfound United Football League this coming October. 

Fassel, 59, the 1997 NFL Coach of the Year who led an average Giants team to an improbable appearance in the 2001 Super Bowl, has been unable to secure a head coaching position in the professional ranks since he was controversially fired in Gotham at the conclusion of the 2003 season. 

There is zero dispute that a trend has developed among NFL owners who are seeking younger and younger coaches in favor of more experienced, veteran types.

Still, how can a mediocre coach like Eric Mangini find work in seven days when a successful leader of players like Fassel (60-56-1) has been unable to in six years?

In the autumn of 2000, Fassel, a onetime tutor of legendary quarterbacks Phil Simms and John Elway, made an impassioned public speech to the media that many credit with helping propel the Big Blue to the championship game.

“I am raising the stakes right now," said the quarterback selected by the Chicago Bears in the 7th round of the 1972 draft.

"If this is a poker game, I am shoving my chips right in the middle of the table. I am raising the ante. Anybody who wants out, can get out. This team is going to the playoffs. OK? This team is going to the playoffs.”

Fassel frequently helped ordinary Giants teams advance "to the playoffs."

Mangini failed to get a decidedly talented 2008 Jets squad "to the playoffs" and he has done nothing to earn a head coaching position this fall.

"I am raising the ante," it is an unfair disgrace that Eric Mangini is a head coach in the NFL and Jim Fassel is not.

"I am shoving my chips right in the middle of the table," NFL owners now discriminate against veteran coaches.

This sad fact of prejudice is clearly exemplified in a microcosm by the opposite plights of Mangini and Fassel.



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