It’s long been rather common to think of NFL coaches as sleepless psychopaths. It will probably not surprise you to learn that Jets head coach Adam Gase is a keeper of the flame of work-life imbalance.
During his years with the Dolphins, Gase lived across the street from [offensive coordinator Dowell] Loggains. Sometimes, Loggains would be jostled awake after midnight by his wife, Beth. “Adam’s at the door,” she would say.
Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills told Gase to stop texting him post-midnight because he kept waking him up.
“You would get these texts from him until 4 in the morning on a regular basis,” says [ex-Dolphins executive Mike] Tannenbaum, now an ESPN analyst. “I don’t think he sleeps a lot.”
Fueled by five or six 20-ounce cups a day from the Kuerig coffee maker that is an arm’s length from his desk, and maybe a Red Bull here or there, Gase has energy like a power plant. And it doesn’t wane in the wee hours.
There is no window in his office to make him aware of the black of the night or the first light of day.
His wife, Jennifer, says he typically gets home at 2 a.m. and goes back to work at 6. When she travels with him to road games, she gets a separate room because he’s up most of the night watching tape.
The birth of one of his children? An inconvenience:
Every Tuesday when he was in Denver, Gase met with [Peyton] Manning at 2 p.m. Except this Tuesday, when Jennifer was delivering Wyatt by caesarean section.
Gase told his wife to schedule the operation for 10 a.m. “So they pulled the baby out of me and said, ‘It’s a boy,’” Jennifer says. “They didn’t even put my organs back and sew me up before he’s like, ‘You good?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I’m good.’” He said, ‘All right then, I’m out.’ They said, ‘You want to cut the umbilical cord?’ He said, ‘No, I’m good.’”
At 2 p.m., Manning was stunned to find Gase waiting for him in the meeting room.
Manning: “You’ve got to be kidding me. Didn’t your wife just have a baby two hours ago?”
Gase: “Yeah, but did you really think I was going to let you win this one?”
Gase also apparently ate pepperoni pizza every night when he was the Dolphins’ coach.
It’s hard to read all of this without thinking of Joe Gibbs and Dick Vermeil. Gibbs had pioneered the technique of sleeping in his office during his first stint as Washington’s coach, only to later admit in Bob Glauber’s book that he regrets how much time back then he spent away from his family. In 1983, at the age of 46, Vermeil called it quits as the Eagles’ coach, citing burnout. This was how Sports Illustrated once described Vermeil’s ability to multitask: “He gulped coffee for breakfast, ate a Carnation Breakfast Bar for lunch and sometimes had a hoagie, while sitting on the toilet, for dinner.”
The self-destructive lifestyle has become a shibboleth for the coaching mindset. Gibbs was a good football coach. Vermeil was a good football coach. They barely slept, so to be a good coach, you can’t sleep either, goes the thinking. To everyone’s detriment, one has become considered a substitute for the other, or a least a prerequisite, and it still fools some people. Adam Gase is risking his personal life and his health, and thus he is a “real” NFL coach. His career record is 23-25.