When Kansas City Chiefs owner Clark Hunt and GM Scott Pioli held their press conference to talk about firing head coach Todd Haley, the only possible replacement mentioned by name was defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel, currently the interim head coach.
“I think it’s safe to say that he’ll be one of the people we’re considering as we move forward,” Pioli told reporters.
On the surface — as we talked about yesterday — Crennel looks like he could be a solid option. The franchise and players are familiar with the veteran coach and hiring him would prevent any major disruptions in the progress of the Chiefs improving defensive unit. It would also allow most of the current staff to stay on board going forward.
But there’s one big reason why Crennel might not get a long look and it’s not his 24-40 record as a head coach. Instead, it’s a subject that the Chiefs are all too familiar with these days: age.
At 64, there is only one head coach — interim or otherwise — in the NFL older than Crennel. That’s Tom Coughlin of the New York Giants, who is 65. Beyond Coughlin, there’s only one other coach that’s even over 60 and that’s Pete Carroll out in Seattle with the Seahawks.
Firing the 44-year-old Haley had some in the media saying this isn’t a young man’s league, but if you look at the facts, actually it is.
The average age of an NFL head coach — including Crennel and the two others wearing the interim label — is 51.03. That’s a far cry from Crennel’s 64 (65 by the time training camp rolls around).
Maybe you think the young coaches taking over terrible teams is bringing that number down significantly. Well, if you look at teams that have won the Super Bowl recently, the age gap is even more extreme. The average age of the last ten Super Bowl winning coaches is 48. The oldest to win it all in that stretch is a 61-year-old Coughlin in the 2007 season.
No employer would ever dare mention age when discussion a job opening — nor should they — and Hunt, Pioli and the Chiefs are extra sensitive about the subject right now. That’s because a former employee just filed suit accusing “systemic age discrimination”, accusations the team has obviously denied. But it doesn’t change the fact that this is still a young man’s league and Crennel is no longer a young man.
While the franchise will rightfully give Crennel a chance to earn the job these final three weeks and talk to him about the opening after the season, it shouldn’t be ignored that his age could be a hurdle for him during the Chiefs search for their next head coach.