The new guy is the hope. The new guy always is the hope.
He will see the situation with a different set of eyes lodged under a different haircut. He will be more than a breath of fresh air; he will be a hurricane, whipping through the disorganized past. He will re-arrange. He will cut. He will paste. He will eliminate the bad. He will multiply the good. There will be no barriers. The sky will be the only limit.
He is convinced.
“Do I think I can do it? Sure. I have a lot of confidence in myself.”
-Andy Reid, coach, Philadelphia Eagles, Jan. 10, 1999
He will come to that first press conference in his new suit, maybe the same one he wore to the successful interview. He will bring his wife and kids with him. Or maybe not. He will stand next to the general manager and, of course, the owner, and he will hold up a uniform or a football helmet for the pictures. Say cheese. This will be a moment he always has wanted in his life.
“As a leader of our team, I will do everything possible to bring back the pride, tradition and excellence of the glory years of past Bears teams…I’ve been through the proper channels to be a head football coach. To me, this is a normal progress of a coach in this league, and the next step is being a head football coach. I’ve been successful on all those different stages and am excited about the next step.”
-Lovie Smith, coach, Chicago Bears, Jan 14, 2004
His plans for the future will whirr through his head. He might have been an assistant, handed his ideas to other people in the past, part of someone else’s success, but now he can work them out exactly the way he always wanted. This is his time. This is his chance. The butterflies can climb out of his ears and fly into the sunshine. The X’s can do exactly what he has wanted them to do to those troublesome O’s. He has convinced other people to give him the chance. They obviously saw the great things that brewed inside him. Everybody is on his side.
“I’m really excited. I really think it’s a great opportunity. It’s a team with a lot of young talent on both sides of the ball. The more I studied the situation, the better it looked, and the more I wanted that job. I can’t wait to get started.”
-Ken Whisenhunt, coach, Arizona Cardinals. Jan. 15, 2007
“He presented a well-organized and thorough plan moving forward. We liked it … It became apparent to us, particularly when we got into the second phase of our interview process, that Ken began to separate himself from the other candidates.”
-Rod Graves, VP for Football Operations Arizona Cardinals, Jan. 15, 2007.
If he had a previous chance with another organization, maybe even two chances, well, those organizations were different. The players were different. The situations were different. There were injuries. There might have been malcontents, might have been fools. There were fumbles, interceptions, maybe a bad press. Well, the hell with the bad press. Forget the fumbles, the interceptions, the malcontents. Forget the injuries. This is here. This is now. This is different.
“This isn’t a team where you’re rebuilding. We should start fast. We should be good early and we should e good late. Not having to go through the normal things you go through when you make a coaching change is going to help the players more than anyone.”
-Norv Turner, San Diego Chargers, Feb. 20, 2007
“I can’t say anything to change anybody’s mind. All I can do is try to help us win football games. We win football games, everybody’s minds will be changed, right? ... I’ve been around enough winning programs that when I walk on the field, I expect to win. I don’t just hope to win. But the bottom line is that we’ve got to do it on the field.”
-Chan Gailey, coach, Buffalo Bills, Jan. 20, 2010
No day in professional football is filled with more optimism than the day the new man unpacks his pencil box. All sins are forgiven. Hope is restored as if were electricity interrupted by a particularly nasty storm. The new man will work harder, work smarter than the man who preceded him. The old players will listen to his message with ears that shut out the old messages. The new players? Whew. They will be phenomenal talents, stolen right in front of everyone else. They will fill the roster with excellence.
Headlines will tell the story. Instant replay will preserve it. The franchise, the team, will return to a previous glory. The citizens of the city will dance and sing and erect statues to their heroes. The new man will be the reason for all of this. The ringmaster.
“I am extremely excited about having Pat Shurmur as the next head coach of the Cleveland Browns. Pat is a bright young man who grew up in football and around the coaching profession. I came away from our interview very impressed with him as a person, with his extensive knowledge of the game and his track record of success as an assistant coach in this league. Most importantly, I feel as though he possesses the necessary qualities which make him the right man to lead our football team.”
-Mike Holmgren, President, Cleveland Browns, Jan. 13, 2011
“It’s an honor and a privilege to join an organizations with such a rich history and tradition as the Cleveland Browns … I am looking forward to the challenge and can’t wait to get started in helping to build the Browns back to one of the elite teams in the NFL.”
-Pat Shurmur, coach, Cleveland Browns
“I’ve known Romeo for quite some time and understand and know what he is and who he is and what he represents. He’s got a great football mind. He’s got a great deal of integrity. He certainly knows how to get the troops motivated, to say the least. He is someone who knows how to create a great deal of energy, emotion and respect among the players.”
-Scott Pioli, general manager, Kansas City Chiefs, Jan. 9, 2012
“There is a good nucleus in that locker room. [He was interim coach for three games before receiving the job.] As I told the young men at the end of the season, I think they have some substance, some character to them. I think going forward we have an opportunity to develop and build a competitive team that hopefully will give us a chance to be on the championship track, year in and year out.”
-Romeo Crennel, coach, Kansas City Chiefs, Jan. 9, 2012
And if none of these grand things happen?
Well, there are 32 teams in the National Football League and the old rule is that there is one Super Bowl champion and 31 teams that can’t win the big one. Change is the one constant.
There always will be a new set of new guys ready to go.