WASHINGTON, Dec. 31 (UPI) -- Each year, the day after the regular season ends in the National Football League is called Black Monday.
It's called that because it's the day coaches whose jobs are known to be in jeopardy get pink slips.
The annual firings started early this season when Dan Reeves resigned from the Atlanta Falcons after he was told by management in November that he would be replaced at season's end. Jim Fassel got a similar message from the New York Giants two weeks ago, but he stuck it out through Sunday.
On Monday, the firings were numerous and likely are not over. Gone are Greg Williams at Buffalo, Dick Jauron at Chicago, and Dave McGinnis at Arizona, and based upon what many analysts think, it's a foregone conclusion that Bill Callahan is out at Oakland.
After missing the playoffs a second year in a row, Dave Wannstedt, whose Miami Dolphins were 10-6, got a reprieve from the team, but to keep his job as coach he had to agree to relinquish his duties as general manager.
Sixty-seven-year-old Dick Vermeil of the Kansas City Chiefs, who took Philadelphia to the Super Bowl in 1980, loves coaching, and is one of the most successful people in his business, now is thinking about his future. Vermeil could become the first coach to take three different franchises to the Super Bowl if the Chiefs, who went 13-3 in the regular season, make it that far.
"You vacillate back and forth," Vermeil said. "There's a lot of things to think about. The final thing is if you could come back and do it better next year than we did it this year. You can't remain status quo as a coach or as a player. You've got to do it better. Whether I have the energy, really, and the toughness this football team needs to get better. It's a lot of responsibility. I would only do it if I can do it better."
There was speculation about Mike Tice at Minnesota and Marty Schottenheimer at San Diego (management has said he will be back), whispers about Jim Haslett at New Orleans, Bill Cowher at Pittsburgh and Herman Edwards with the New York Jets, and on Tuesday, Steve Spurrier decided he had had enough at Washington.
Spurrier's resignation was somewhat of a surprise because he had three years left on a five-year deal that would have paid him $25 million. His two-year mark with the Redskins was just 12-20 and the feeling is that he finally learned that his system, which was extremely successful at college level at Florida and Duke, likely won't work at the next level.
The only certainty in this annual turmoil is that the league is determined in its efforts to get qualified minority candidates on the various interview lists. A committee has issued guidelines for that purpose and had mandated that owners be involved in the hiring process.
Minority or not, a bunch of names have bandied about but whoever is hired for any of these jobs will have to be aware that, in today's sports world, no matter the sport, coaches face "win now" propositions and their shelf life is miniscule.
For McGinnis, whose team ended the season with a last-play 18-17 win over Minnesota, knocking the Vikings out of a possible playoff berth, even "win now" was a misnomer. With fans outraged about ballooning salaries, ticket prices, and the proliferation of sports-talk radio, coaches live an uneasy and difficult life.