The history of Black Monday in the NFL

When did the Monday after the regular season ends become a day for firing coaches?

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Jan. 8, 2024, marks an unfortunate annual tradition across the NFL: Black Monday.

While Brandon Staley, Frank Reich and Josh McDaniels failed to make it through the year, other franchises cut ties with their head coach right after the regular season concluded.

With Week 18 added to the NFL season in 2020, Black Monday got pushed back a few days, but its impact on coaches and general managers remains. What is the origin of the phrase, and who has been a Black Monday casualty in recent years?

Here’s a look at the history of Black Monday in the NFL:

What is Black Monday in the NFL?

Black Monday commonly refers to the first Monday after the conclusion of the regular season. While some coaches and general managers are gearing up for playoff matchups, others have to pack up their offices after being fired. 

Since Black Monday is the first day of the offseason for 18 NFL teams each year, it is common for multiple head coaches and front office members to be let go across the league.

When did Black Monday originate?

While a Chicago Tribune story used the term when referencing a day in which multiple college coaches were fired in the late 1990s, 1998 is the year when Black Monday became a noteworthy phrase for the NFL. The Associated Press, New York Post and Houston Chronicle all used Black Monday in headlines on the same day after the season ended.

Black Monday 2024

Five head-coaching positions have already opened up since the conclusion of the 2023 regular season. The Atlanta Falcons parted ways with Arthur Smith on Sunday following their Week 18 loss and the Washington Commanders cut ties with Ron Rivera the morning of Black Monday. The Tennessee Titans waited another day before firing Mike Vrabel, who had been their head coach for six seasons. Wednesday saw Pete Carroll’s 14-year tenure as Seattle Seahawks head coach come to a close. Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots officially moved on from another on Thursday after 24 seasons.

Three teams got ahead of the Black Monday by firing their head coaches during the regular season. The Las Vegas Raiders fired McDaniels in October, the Carolina Panthers fired Reich in November and the Los Angeles Chargers fired Staley in December.

How many coaches were fired on Black Monday in 2023?

Matt Rhule, Frank Reich and Nathaniel Hackett were all let go from their respective teams midseason, while the Houston Texans fired Lovie Smith just hours after their season-ending victory on Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023. 

Kliff Kingsbury was the lone head coach to be fired on Black Monday in 2023. The Arizona Cardinals announced that they parted ways with Kingsbury after four seasons and that general manager Steve Keim was stepping down from his position to focus on his health.

How many coaches were fired on Black Monday in 2022?

There were several coaches on the hot seat heading into Week 18 of the 2021 season, and two of them were on opposite sidelines at U.S. Bank Stadium. Matt Nagy of the Chicago Bears and Mike Zimmer of the Minnesota Vikings both wound up being fired on Monday, Jan. 10, 2022. Nagy had been with the Bears since 2018, while Zimmer had been at the helm for the Vikings since 2014.

Perhaps the biggest surprise when it came to head coaching moves following the 2021 regular season happened in Miami. The Dolphins fired Brian Flores on Black Monday after he spent three seasons in the role.

Vic Fangio was fired on a Sunday since his Denver Broncos concluded their 2021 regular season with a Saturday matchup in Kansas City. In New York, Joe Judge was gone after two seasons with the Giants, though the team waited an extra day before letting go of its head coach. David Culley lasted a few more days before the Texans fired him.

Urban Meyer and Jon Gruden did not make it through the 2021 regular season.

How many coaches were fired on Black Monday in 2021?

Two coaches were fired on Black Monday in 2021: Anthony Lynn of the Chargers and Doug Marrone of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Some teams did not wait until that Monday to cut ties with their coaches. The New York Jets fired Adam Gase that Sunday after losing to the Patriots in the regular season finale. Matt Patricia, Dan Quinn and Bill O’Brien were all fired by their teams during the 2020 regular season. Doug Pederson, meanwhile, was fired by the Philadelphia Eagles exactly one week after Black Monday.

What does Black Monday mean outside of football?

Black Monday is not an exclusive term to the NFL, but its sinister connotation continues throughout its various meanings.

Black Monday has been used to reference a notable drop in the stock market, particularly as part of crashes in 1929 and 1987. Other infamous Black Mondays date back to the 13th century, when native Irish massacred hundreds of Dublin citizens.

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