lame-duck~ lame'-duck' (lâm'dŭk')
In the sporting vernacular, the term "Lame Duck" is usually used when describing a Head Coach about to enter his final year his contract. Lovie Smith was a Lame Duck after the Bears Super Bowl in 2006 because he was only signed through 2007. Pressure was put on management by Lovie, his agent, many fans, and many media outlets... so he was given a 4 year extension through 2011. An extension that most fans were glad he received.
Now we have the Chicago Bears just a few short years later, still trying to get back to the playoffs after losing the Super Bowl, and with the same problems seemingly every year, a flux in the assistant coaching staff.
These days Lovie Smith is being described as a Lame Duck coach every where I turn, and it may be a pet peeve of mine, but technically he isn't a Lame Duck. If the reasoning behind him getting that unflattering adjective thrown on him every chance is because there is an aura of uncertainty surrounding his job status after 2010, then why not use the same phrase on all head coaches? Because...
There is no such thing as job security in the sporting world, or anywhere for that matter, but especially surrounding Head Coaches. If a head coach lasts more than 3 or 4 years it's surprising, more than 5 or 6 years is rare. Is anyone surprised when a coach is fired after only one season? The reasons an owner or GM will fire a coach are many. His "guy" happens to become available, "You're Fired!", miss the playoffs "You're Fired!", not winning a championship, "You're Fired!", make a media misstep, "You're Fired!", have an unruly team, "You're Fired!", have a mild mannered team, "You're Fired!"... Life's not fair...
Lovie Smith is signed through 2011. If he misses the playoff next year he could be fired, but that could be said if he had 3 more years on his deal (well... maybe not with the Bears management, but you get my point). But if he makes the playoffs in 2010, then what do the Bears do? Let him play out his current deal and see what 2011 holds, let him essentially be a Lame Duck coach in 2011. Or, extend him again?
If it plays out that way I hope Chicago management would let him finish up 2011 with no extension. Just to see what the team can do. If they get caught up in a bidding war for his services after the season ends then so be it. It sure beats the alternative of being stuck with a contract on a guy you just aren't sure of.
* This is a repost from my 1-14-10 blog on the Sporting News