What Is the NFL’s Black Monday? A History of the League’s Post-Week 18 Ritual

How did the origins of Black Monday begin across the NFL? Let's look at the history of the date and who could be a part of the 2024 firings.

The NFL is full of pivotal key dates, the ones that can shape up a franchise. In the offseason, it’s the NFL Combine, the owners’ meeting, draft day, and the schedule release. During the season, it’s the trade deadline and the playoffs.

But immediately after the regular season comes a darker day for the league, yet one that still carries importance and heavy scrutiny. That day is Black Monday.

What Is Black Monday? History Behind Dark NFL Day

Black Monday marks the first official day of the offseason for NFL teams not in the postseason. But that date also allows a team’s front office to announce the firings of head coaches and general managers, without the need for an interim replacement.

So how did it become known as Black Monday?

This year surprisingly marks the 26th year the date has been given the name. Major news outlets who regularly cover the NFL — the Associated Press, New York Post, and Houston Chronicle — all called the day after the season finale Black Monday in its headlines back in 1998.

From there, Black Monday took off. Now, it’s described as the day teams can swiftly make changes within their leadership.

Are Coaches the Only Ones Getting Fired on Black Monday?

Coaches who ended up with a dismal record are often facing their Black Monday fate after Week 18. However, it’s not just head coaches who face getting the pink slip.

General managers of struggling NFL franchises can also be removed on Black Monday. The league has seen its share of GMs who were dismissed unceremoniously.

MORE: PFN’s FREE Playoff Predictor

Even non-head coaches and GMs face a Black Monday consequence. Some teams have opted to make changes across the staff on the morning after the season finale.

One such case of this was the 1999 Green Bay Packers. Head coach Ray Rhodes wasn’t the only firing following the season. The entire coaching staff was dismissed after the team failed to make the playoffs at 8-8.

Notable Black Monday Fires in League History

There have been years when Black Monday has been a relatively quiet day — which got some analysts calling it “charcoal gray” Monday. However, there has been a high number of postseason-finale firings.

Back in 2012, a staggering 12 Black Monday firings occurred — seven head coaches and five general managers.

Since the inception of the term, who have been some of the more notable firings?

Black Monday 2023 only saw one head coach get fired the day after his final game: Arizona Cardinals HC Kliff Kingsbury. After the 2021 season, Matt Nagy of the Chicago Bears and Mike Zimmer of the Minnesota Vikings were axed.

But names like Jim Harbaugh (2015 with the San Francisco 49ers), Mike Shanahan (2009 with the Denver Broncos), and Brian Flores (2022 with the Miami Dolphins) have become one of the more stunning Black Monday firings in league history. All three didn’t endure a double-digit losing record when they were dismissed.

Who Could Face a Black Monday Fate After Week 18?

Will there be a high number of firings after the regular season ends? Here are the names trending towards a job change come Monday.

Bill Belichick, New England Patriots

Multiple reports are indicating the Pats and their six-time Super Bowl-winning head coach are heading toward a separation.

MORE: 2024 NFL Coaching Rumors

This would end a two-decade run in Foxborough for Bill Belichick, the only head coach to have won a Super Bowl for the Patriots. However, he’s already endured the most losses this season (12) than any other during his time with New England.

Belichick’s name has also surfaced as possibilities for other NFL openings like the Los Angeles Chargers.

Ron Rivera, Washington Commanders

Ron Rivera’s seat has grown hotter this season. The 2015 NFC champion head coach with the Carolina Panthers currently sits at a dismal 4-12 with the Commanders. Furthermore, he’s facing the possibility of ending the season on an eight-game losing streak.

Rivera’s best season in D.C. was 2020 when Washington won the NFC East, but even that was with a 7-9 record.

Arthur Smith, Atlanta Falcons

Arthur Smith’s future became nebulous back on Dec. 13, 2023. ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported that the Falcons would consider firing Smith if there was any kind of late-season collapse.

His possible exit was further intensified by Washington Post NFL Insider Jason La Canfora, who reported on Tuesday that owner Arthur Blank “isn’t a big fan” of Smith’s work. Smith has yet to produce a playoff team since his hire in 2021.

Fortunately for Smith and the Falcons, they’re still alive for the NFC South title. However, they need a significant amount of help by beating the New Orleans Saints and hope the 2-14 Carolina Panthers can stun the division-leading Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Smith and the Falcons missing a third straight postseason together could give Blank leverage in making a change in leadership.

Mike Vrabel, Tennessee Titans

Mike Vrabel is witnessing his worst season as head coach, with his Titans sitting at 5-11. The past Super Bowl-winning linebacker with the Patriots, however, told reporters ahead of Week 18 that he wants to be back in Nashville for 2024.

Yet, the potential opening in Foxborough could call for the beloved Patriots player to come home and succeed Belichick if changes are made there.

Robert Saleh, New York Jets

The 2023 season began with higher expectations and aspirations for a return to the playoffs when the Jets traded for Aaron Rodgers.

Now, Saleh has been called out by multiple New York media personalities after the Jets’ season imploded to 6-10. And it all started to unravel when the future Hall of Fame quarterback suffered an Achilles tear on the first possession of his Jets debut.

ESPN’s Fowler, though, shared Wednesday that multiple people around the organization have informed him that Saleh’s job is safe and will be given a renewed chance to coach Rodgers for a full season in 2024. Still, owner Woody Johnson could go the opposite direction if the Jets lose to the Patriots on Sunday.

Want to predict the rest of the 2023 season with our FREE NFL Playoff Predictor? Looking for the most up-to-date NFL standings? What about a breakdown of team depth charts or the NFL schedule? Pro Football Network has you covered with that and more!

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