Mora says he was fired by the Colts following the 2001 season after refusing to fire Fangio as defensive coordinator.
The Broncos have reportedly hired Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio as their new head coach, and somewhere, Jim Mora Sr. has to be smiling.
Fangio served as defensive coordinator on Mora's Colts staff from 1999-2001. Mora was fired as Indianapolis' head coach coach at the end of the '01 season, when he led the Colts a fruitless 6–10 record. Perhaps the most worthwhile part of that season was an infamous press conference rant, in which a reporter asked Mora if he thought Indianapolis had chance to ever reach the playoffs.
As it turns out, Fangio had a role in what's considered one of the most memorable media sessions in NFL history. Following Indianapolis' 40–21 loss to the 49ers (during which Peyton Manning threw four interceptions), Mora began by saying, "Do not blame that game on the defense."
"I don’t care who you play," Mora said. "Whether it’s a high school team, a junior college team, a college team, much less an NFL team—when you turn the ball over five times... You ain’t gonna beat anybody. That was a disgraceful performance. We gave it away. We gave them the freaking game. In my opinion, that sucked.”
A good minute passes during that presser before Mora delivers the money quote, ironically saying, "Playoffs?! Don't talk about the playoffs. Are you kidding me?"
Mora was fired at the end of the 2001 season, and as he told FOX Sports 97.5 during a 2017 interview, the Colts gave him an ultimatum: Fire Fangio as defensive coordinator, or be fired.
"I got fired because I wouldn’t fire Vic," Mora said. "It was either fire Vic or fire me. I was asked by [then Colts general manager] Bill Polian—I was told by Bill Polian he wanted to me to fire Vic Fangio. I go, ‘Well, he doesn’t deserve to be fired.’ He’s an outstanding coach. He was then and he still is.
"So we had talks with [Colts owner] Jim Irsay and it came down, I wouldn’t do it. I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t fire a friend or a coach that I felt was very qualified that didn’t deserve to be fired. So I got fired. That was it.”
Of course, the Colts went on to hire Tony Dungy after letting Mora go. Under Dungy, they eventually won a Super Bowl title. Mora did not coach again in the NFL following his ouster, but Fangio's hiring in Denver is at least some type of vindication for his decision.