I haven't come up with a new word for a while, so I want to throw one out there .. the word is "fanbole" (pronounced FAN-buh-lee).
The definition is simply: A sweeping, exaggerated and often ludicrous sports statement that a fan makes when under the influence of an emotional sports event (and perhaps various substances).
If you see a shortstop make a diving stop and throw out a runner, you might say: "That's the greatest play I have ever seen." That would be a fanbole. It might be the greatest play you ever saw, but it probably isn't. In that moment, it feels that way.
If you see the Kansas City Chiefs give up against the Philadelphia Eagles like they did on Sunday, you might say: "This is the worst football team in the history of the NFL." That too would be a fanbole. The Chiefs are terrible, but they are probably not the worst team in NFL history. Probably not.
You call a player the worst ever, a coach a genius, a general manager an idiot -- these are probably fanboles.
But one of the fun things about a fanbole is that sometimes, after uttering one (or tweeting one), you will find that after you think about it for a while -- hey, you know what? -- you ACTUALLY BELIEVE IT.
I recently tweeted this:
"Another one of those fan maybe-overstatement-maybe-not thoughts: Eric Mangini was the worst NFL head coach hire in 25 years."
Now, I'll admit -- that's pure fanbole. I cannot stand what Eric Mangini has done to the Browns, the team of my childhood. I cannot stand the lack of respect he has shown for the team's history, the Mickey Mouse game he plays with quarterbacks, the amazing knack he has for getting his players to not play hard for him or the stupid fines he hands out like he's Principal Vernon from "The Breakfast Club." Don't mess with the bull, young man, you'll get the horns.
But here's the thing: Based on the Twitter responses I've seen ... I'm actually starting to believe that I'm right. I'm actually starting to believe that Mangini really was the worst head coach hire in 25 years. The responses have mostly been to list other coaches who were worse hires than Mangini. But you know what? I don't think any of those hires WERE worse than Mangini. Remember:
1. Mangini had just been fired in New York, where he had done a terrible job. He had a losing record. His team had collapsed down the stretch, he had alienated his players, he was a pain in the neck to deal with. Point is: He'd already PROVEN how much damage he could do as a coach.
2. He came right out of the school of Bill Belichick ... and that didn't work THE FIRST TIME in Cleveland. It seems to me that Cleveland is a working-class town and Browns fans want a working-class coach -- not some pompous know-it-all who doesn't feel like he should have to explain to the commoners what he's doing.
3. What had he ever done to convince anyone he could be a head coach in the first place? Why, because he was a defensive coordinator for the Patriots under Belichick for one season? The Browns had JUST HIRED Romeo Crennel, who was ALSO defensive coordinator under Belichick. Attention Cleveland Browns owners, here's a good hint: BILL BELICHICK IS HIS OWN DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR.
4. Basically the first thing Mangini did -- first thing -- was have them tear down a mural of great Cleveland Browns players on the wall in the Browns offices. Now, there are differing opinions about what really happened, whose fault it really was, does it all matter, etc. You know what? The Cleveland Browns have never been to a Super Bowl. Never. Not one. But Browns fans still have a whole lot of pride. Browns fans grow up on a glorious history. If you allow something stupid like that to happen on your watch ... just a horrendous hire.
Now, here is a partial list of hires Twitter people think were worse than Mangini ... and why I disagree*:
*And remember: I'm talking about WORST HIRES, not necessarily WORST COACHES. Sometimes what seems like a good hire can turn disastrous. And sometimes what seems like a bad hire turns out well. We're talking specifically about the decision to hire Mangini here.
• Art Shell (Oakland): Admittedly this was a dreadful hire ... but there's no way it comes close to Mangini. Shell is a Raiders legend, a Hall of Famer player, who was also the first African American coach in the NFL (well, second, going back to Fritz Pollard in the 1920s). He actually coached the Raiders to three playoff appearances in five years in his first stint. True, when the Raiders hired him the second time he clearly had lost his coaching marbles ... but there's no way that's as bad a hire as Mangini.
• Jim Zorn (Washington): Well ... maybe. The whole process of hiring Zorn was nutty, and it's pretty clear he was overmatched. But Jim Zorn was a fine and fun quarterback, so at least he had that going for him. Plus he had not just been fired as a head coach.
• Bobby Petrino (Atlanta): This turned out to be a disastrous hire ... but I don't think it was considered bad at the time. Petrino was one of the hottest names in college football.
• Raheem Morris (Tampa Bay): Whew, yeah, that's a bad hire. But, again, at least he was hired from within and he had not just been canned.
• Steve Spurrier (Washington): No way. Not even close. Spurrier turned out to be a horrible NFL coach, but the hire itself was exciting and had every chance to work. NFL teams were falling over each other to hire Spurrier as a head coach. This isn't even in the same ballpark as the Mangini hire.
• Tom Cable (Oakland): The Raiders should have their own category when it comes to terrible NFL coach hires. But even this hire to me is not as insulting and infuriating as the Mangini hire. I mean, everyone in New York -- players, fans, media members, everyone -- DESPISED Mangini. I mean, I'm still wondering who in New York Mangini could have put down as a reference.
• Rich Kotite (New York Jets): Well, this hire has many of the same problems as the Mangini hire -- Kotite had just been canned, nobody liked him, and so on. But at least Kotite was a New Yorker who had played in the NFL and he had a winning record as a coach. This WAS bad ... I think Mangini was worse.
• Scott Linehan (St. Louis): Bad hire, of course, but he was a longtime assistant coach who had success in various other places. He'd coached in high school, in college, he was offensive coordinator for the Vikings and Dolphins. I don't think the hire itself compares to Mangini, though I certainly feel the Rams fans pain of having to endure two and a half seasons with him as coach.
• Marty Mornhinweg (Detroit): He was considered a bright young coordinator when the Lions hired him -- and he's offensive coordinator for the Eagles now. Plus, he lasted two years with the Lions (long enough to elect to kick off in overtime). I really don't think Mangini will last the season.
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