A Turner for the worst

By By Tom Quinn and By Tom Quinn

By Tom Quinn

With the hiring of two-time loser Norv Turner earlier this week, the San Diego Chargers proved what I have suspected all along: Professional coaches get more second chances at success than an awkward, uncoordinated kid at a charity softball game.

Seriously, Turner has already been fired from head coaching positions in the NFL twice. Twice! I’ve seen drive-through operators that looked more comfortable in a headset than he does. Yet despite his obvious inability to put a winning team on the field, come September he’ll be drawing up plays instead of thawing out fries.

Only in the wide world of professional sports can an individual still be considered employable after crashing and burning multiple times. Not even fast-food lackeys are cut this much slack. If you’re caught spitting in someone’s burger, the odds of your getting another job in the food-service industry are slim to none (we hope).

Most professions, from doctors to part-time librarians, have a limit of how many times a given worker can screw up before he or she is shown the door and asked never to come back. I’d bet dollars to doughnuts that any lawyer with a winning percentage like Turner’s wouldn’t be a lawyer for very long.

Even more unbelievable than Turner’s hiring is the fact that the Chargers’ brass is actually happy about locking him up for the long haul. From top to bottom, the entire organization is buzzing with excitement at the prospect of handing the keys over to a man who has already driven two perfectly good franchises into the ground.

“I consider Norv one of the best offensive minds in the National Football

League,” Team President Dean Spanos said, without laughing or biting his tongue. “We’re all looking forward to him taking us to the next level because we all have the same goal in mind. That’s to win a world championship.”

Considering how well Turner’s last two gigs went, there is every reason to believe that the Chargers will be in the hunt for the Arena Football League title in no time at all.

Isn’t it ironic that an organization as focused on winning as the NFL is run by a group of chronic losers? Of course, NFL coaches aren’t the only ones who enjoy an apparently unlimited number of mulligans. On the contrary, this forgive-and-forget policy can be found in virtually all American sports.

Take, for example, former U.S. soccer coach Bruce Arena. After going 0-3-1 at the 2006 World Cup, Arena was hired to coach the MLS’ New York Red Bulls.

In other words, a man who couldn’t secure a win against an island nation the approximate size of a postage stamp was just crowned king of soccer in the country’s biggest media market.

In a similar situation, Larry Brown retired after setting a new standard in losing as the head coach of the 2005 New York Knicks. Nevertheless, five bucks says that several NBA teams would be falling all over themselves to sign him if he were to return to the coaching ranks.

According to an old adage, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, all the while expecting a different result. If that’s the case, half of the folks that run America’s beloved sports teams belong in the loony bin.