How to survive in the Not For Long

by Lori Warhop

How to survive in the Not For Long

With two teams firing their Head Coach after one season, Houston and Jacksonville, how do families navigate these short and unexpected changes?

This is a tough one.  And unfortunately, the instability in the NFL is not changing.

Families tend to assess and make decisions based on the contract the Head Coach is given. Most head coaches receive a 4 to 5 year deal. Coming in on the front end of a Head Coach’s contract is the better opportunity. These two teams certainly seemed to offer that in the beginning.

But for the 40+ families in Houston and Jacksonville, (8 teams total) they are now moving their families…again.  These are not small challenges.  Children change schools and friends. Wives change jobs. 

Years ago, when I interviewed for a job, my interview went like this:

My possible new boss and I are chatting.

He pulls out my resume and looks at it. He looks at me. He looks back at my resume. And...

I know my resume looks like this: A year in New Mexico with a sales job. A year unemployed living in London. (World League) A year in Dallas. And now, this move to Boston.

He finally says…

“Your resume concerns me. I hate to say this, but it looks like you’re running from the law. Is there something you’d like to share with me before we get started?”

I say, “Well, two border states, a move abroad and a move to the northeast does look suspicious...But I’m really just married to a football coach.”

He bursts out laughing.

He hires me on the spot.

I can look back at that situation and can laugh about it now.  But years of this, it stops being funny because there are real life consequences to so much change. The stress of getting fired, changing jobs, moving and getting kids plugged in has a threshold tolerance that gets lower and lower with each move. Good jobs become harder to find for wives when employers see a short work history. Children’s friendships vary based on age but changes to those, because of another move, can really upset the apple cart and start a war on the home front. The worst thing to do is act like it’s all just part of the job, pack it up and move on because…this life is not stable or easy. The better thing to do is acknowledge that this life is not easy and sit down as a family and discuss why.  Discuss what things are hard and why.  

In my family we instituted what we call “Open Forum”. Should any member in our family have a concern about anything, they can call an Open Forum where we sit down as a family and discuss what is on the mind of that family member. This approach has helped my husband and me build a very strong relationship with our children and has strengthened our family, not torn it at the edges as difficulties sometimes tend to do. Our Open Forum is nothing more than a family meeting. If you are unfamiliar with this tool, you can read an excellent article about the benefits of family meetings:Here

Through trial and error, we implemented specific rules of engagement within the Open Forum. The first one is to listen. Listening is a weak trait among most people. Here is an excellent article that can help everyone become a better listener. Here

We also kept the rules of the Open Forum fairly simple and those are:

1. No one can interrupt the person speaking. We all must sit quietly and listen.
2. There is no time limit on the Open Forum. This required communication and planning by the person that called  it to find an appropriate time that works for everyone.
3. No one can dispute or dismiss the concern of the person that called the Forum. We all must listen and understand their concern.This takes patience and time, especially with younger children (and coaches).
4. The one who called it also calls its end.

Most of our Open Forums were called when the drums started beating around the job and a potential firing. Thank you, Social Media. This allowed us to mitigate any fears and concerns around what was to come. Speaking openly and honestly about the situation allowed our family to discuss and plan for any possible changes together.  

This acknowledgement, with communication and understanding, is essential when families are faced with change in this business. To do it all over again, 1 year later, is brutal.  

What strategies does your family use to help navigate this life?

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