Pasquarelli: Mixed Nuts

Shawne Merriman and Randy Moss show how desperation can spell a coach's doom.

Long before examining the kids' Halloween bags, emptying the contents onto the kitchen table and diligently dividing up the tricks from the treats, we all learned this age-old truism because of many years of effective repeat advertising: M&M's come in both plain and peanut.

The NFL's M&M boys, Randy Moss and Shawne Merriman, certainly aren't plain. So that leaves . . .

That's right, folks, they're nuts.

Some might suggest these football misfits are sly like foxes. After all, Moss and Merriman both collect their full contracts for this season, both get to play a game they profess to love until the end of the year, and then both get to sell themselves on the open market next spring, and hopefully sign contracts for several times the combined $5.12 million they'll pocket for the remnant of the 2010 campaign.

OK, give 'em some credit for fooling people, principally coaches Jeff Fisher of Tennessee and Buffalo's Chan Gailey.

Hey, even Randle Patrick McMurphy put one over on Nurse Ratched every once in a while in the great Ken Kesey novel, right? But McMurphy, portrayed by Jack Nicholson in the flick adapted from the book, was still the ringleader of a cuckoo's nest. As clever and calculating as he was pre-lobotomy, McMurphy was borderline bonkers. Merriman and Moss might go over the borderline.

Worse, they might take some of the saner inmates with them. And even beyond that, Moss and Merriman might take Fisher and Gailey with them to Looney Land.

Gailey couldn't tolerate Terrell Owens, assuming that is, Buffalo officials consulted with him before opting not to try to retain the well-traveled wide receiver. Fisher washed his hands of Albert Haynesworth, reportedly could have regained him in a trade, and decline the opportunity. Now the wardens are taking on inmates who might infect the entire cell block.

Good luck, guys.

Gailey and Fisher are smart coaches who have been around the block a few times and allegedly know the ropes. But they've both succumbed to arguably the greatest and most rampant weakness of their profession. For lack of a better handle, call it the Father Flanagan Syndrome. State simply: Every coach, at some point in his tenure, feels he's the guy who can successfully transform a career rotten apple into a corrigible player. Most well-intentioned coaches fail miserably. And most eventually find themselves as former coaches.

Yeah, success has a price-tag, for sure. The pursuit of success is sometimes even more costly.

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