In the basement of the NFL offices, there is a small room used for staff meetings, Bagel Fridays and the monthly office birthday party with the chantilly cream and strawberry cake that Jennifer in legal always orders because she knows it’s Rog’s favorite. Such a suck up, that Jennifer.

Once a year though, this room is used as an outreach center for coaches bloodied on Black Monday at the end of the season. A safe place where they can gather and talk without judgement and fear. The tenor of the room is always a bit bleak, but when Black Monday falls on New Year’s Eve, the annual gathering of the recently disposed is a tad sadder than usual.

Let’s listen in.

Andy Reid: Always heard about this farewell party. Accidentally got invited back in ’07, which was pretty embarrassing because I thought all the coaches came to this party and when I showed up with a job, Brian Billick keyed my car in the parking lot. Spread seems better this year, though. Did you see the crab rangoon?

Lovie Smith: Why am I even here? I won ten games this season! We were just at the Super Bowl! My players are threatening to retire with me gone! This has to be some sort of mistake.

Ken Whisenhunt: Easy, Lovie. Easy. Tough year for your team. You didn’t make the playoffs and you lost to the Packers twice. Hey, I dragged that bag of bones Kurt Warner to the Super Bowl and I’m here too.

Smith: Oh what the hell do you know about anything, Whiz. You let Pete Carroll piss all over you for 58 points. As for losing to Green Bay, have you ever tried to coach a cat who smokes in a stadium full of cheese? No, you haven’t. You’re too busy trying to mold that worthless Kevin Kolb that even Fat Andy shipped out of Philadelphia.

Reid: [Now covered in crab rangoon crumbs] I call myself Fat Andy so twigs like Pat Shurmur don’t do it behind my back.

Pat Shurmur: I’m happy to be here. Relieved, actually. At least I can go to a team with a future while I’m still young. No more cold, miserable industrial ghost towns for me. Isn’t that right, 5Chan?

Chan Gailey: Maybe, maybe I should have given the ball to Spiller more. I just don’t know. I had this plan with Fitzpatrick and I thought, I just thought… Should have gotten the ball to CJ. I’m just so tired of being cold. So tired. So very tired.

Smith: Any idiot can plan around CJ Spiller. Is he a cat? Nooooo. Do you have to still deal with Urlacher hiding catnip around the locker room just for fun? Nooooo. Won ten games in that madhouse.

Norv Turner: [smiles]

Smith: What the hell are you so damn happy about, you damn fruit cake? AJ Smith spike your Gatorade with lithium again? Imagining a rainbow coming out of River’s ass and not his football throw?

Turner: [smiles] Just glad to be here, man. On this earth. Every single day. [smiles]

Mike Tannenbaum: If you guys want, since you keep bringing up quarterbacks, I can call Brett Favre or Tim Tebow for you guys. They’d fit right in at any team you land at.

Entire room in chorus: SHUT UP, CHRISTMAS TREE.

/door flies open

Jon Gruden: THIS GUY CHRISTMAS TREE, WE CALL HIM THAT BECAUSE HIS NAME IS CHRISTMAS TREE IN GERMAN.

Smith: Who invited him? Fat Andy? Whiz?

Whisenhunt: Wasn’t me.

Gruden: INVITATIONS. YOU GUYS CRACK ME UP. NAH, THE LEAGUE LET’S ME KEEP A KEY TO THE BUILDING BECAUSE I LOVE FOOTBALL SO MUCH AND I DON’T SWIPE THE ART OFF THE WALLS LIKE COLLINSWORTH USED TO WHEN HE HAD A KEY. ANYWAY, HEARD THIS GUY SHURMUR WAS DOWN HERE AND WANTED TO GET THE RUN DOWN ON WEEDEN AND LEWIS IN CASE I INTERVIEW IN CLEVELAND THIS WEEK. I WATCHED ALL THE TAPE I COULD FIND, BUT MAYBE SHURMUR HAS SOME VIDEO OF LEWIS IN BED SO I CAN STUDY HIS DEEP SLEEP REM EYE MOVEMENT.

Shurmur: Study his deep sleep REM eye movement? What the hell, Jon? That’s not a real thing to study.

Gruden: NOT A REAL THING TO STUDY? YOU GUYS, CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS GUY? THIS IS WHY YOU’RE OUT OF A JOB, SHURM, NO OFFENSE. WHICH IS WHAT YOU HAD ALL SEASON. NAH, I’M JUST JOKING WITH YOU SHURM, I LOVE THIS GUY.

Gailey: Interview? Heard you were happy at ESPN.

Gruden: HAPPY? WOULD YOU BE HAPPY WATCHING SOMEONE MAKE LOVE TO YOUR WIFE WHEN YOU YOURSELF COULD BE MAKING SWEET BEAUTIFUL LOVE TO YOUR OWN WIFE? WAIT, DON’T ANSWER THAT. I’VE HEARD ALL ABOUT YOU 5CHAN. THIS GUY IS PRETTY FREAKY. EH, I SAY IF IT MAKES YOU HAPPY AND YOU LIKE THAT, OKAY. BUT NO, I’M COMING BACK TO COACHING SO I CAN GET ALL OF YOUR FORMER FANS RILED UP AND HOPING MY VISOR IS ON THEIR SIDELINES.

Reid: I thought that was Bill Cowher’s job. We all agreed on that years ago.

Gruden: THIS GUY COWHER, OF COURSE THAT’S STILL HIS JOB. HE’S NOT GOING TO COACH. I’M GOING TO COACH. WHICH MEANS ONE OF YOU GUYS HAS TO END UP IN BROADCASTING. NOT NORV, HE’S NOT HD READY.

Turner: [smiles]

Gruden: SMITH. I THINK THIS GUY LOVIE IS MADE FOR THE BROADCAST BOOTH.

Smith: I just had a winning season!

Gruden: THIS GUY SHOULD PUT THAT ON HIS RESUME. OKAY, I’M GOING TO HEAD OUT. UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE KEEPS SENDING ME CO-EDS, SO I JUST HAVE THEM LOG TAPE FOR ME TO WATCH.

Whisenhunt: Jon! You’re twice their age! That’s disgusting!

Gruden: SINCE WHEN IS LOGGING TAPE DISGUSTING? THIS GUY DOESN’T SEEM TO KNOW THAT WATCHING TAPE IS THE MOST GLORIOUS THING A COACH CAN DO, DOESN’T MATTER THE AGE OF THE PERSON TAKING NOTES BESIDE THEM. ALTHOUGH IT WOULD BE HELPFUL IF THEY KNEW MORE OF THE PLAYERS NAMES AND DIDN’T JUST WRITE “THIS GUY” AND “THAT GUY” IN MY NOTES. GETS CONFUSING SOMETIMES. MAYBE SEE YOU GUYS AT THE COMBINE.

/door closes

Gailey: We’re doomed. We’re all doomed. Romeo, don’t you think we’re all done for? How do we compete with this guy?

Romeo Crennel: [vacant thousand yard stare]

Gailey: Romeo? You there?

Crennel: Screw it. It’s just football. I’m going for a walk.