"You just never know,". "You think you know, but you don't". "And you never will."
Jim Mora, New Orleans Saints Head Coach.
Jim Mora was a American football coach who acheived many personal and team milestones during his career. He led the Philadelphia Stars of the now defunct USFL to two of three USFL titles until the league folded. He also saved two moribund NFL franchises and brought them to the playoffs. But among many American sports fans Jim Mora is remembered as one of the most quotable sports figures ever.
Jim Mora was a graduate of Occidental College, where he ended up being an assistant coach at his alma mater from 1960-63 and was the head coach there in 1964 and 1965.
In 1966, he joined John Ralston's staff as a linebacker coach. Mora coached three years at Stanford, then worked from 1968-73 under Colorado coach Eddie Crowder as the defensive coordinator, his defenses helped the Buffaloes gain four bowl berths in his six CU seasons.
In 1974, Dick Vermeil, with whom Mora had coached at Stanford, appointed him to his UCLA staff. In 1975 Mora was named defensive coordinator at the University of Washington under Don James. With Mora running the defense, Washington returned as one of college football's elite teams, even winning the Rose Bowl in 1978. After that season Mora went to the professional ranks.
In 1979, Mora coached the Seattle Seahawks defense, where he remained until he moved to coach the New England Patriots defense in 1982. Throughout his career, Mora was known as a good defensive coach with good organizational skills as well.
Those skills probably were the reasons Mora was hired to be the head coach of the Philadelphia Stars, a team that was part of the USFL, a rival league that cropped up in opposition to the NFL in 1983. Mora had a excellent stint as head coach of the Stars going 41-12-1, in the regular season, and 7-1 in the playoffs, and also won two USFL title games. After the USFL folded in 1985 Mora drew the attention of the New Orleans Saints, a NFL team in dire need of a winning coach. Mora was hired to coach the team in 1986.
The Saints traditionally were a bunch of losers. Before Mora they had never even been in a playoff game, and they had been in the NFL for 21 years! But Mora was up to the challenge. Along with Jim Finks the Saints' general manager, Mora turned the franchise around, going 12-3 in the strike shortened season in 1987, ensuring the Saints' first winning season, and gaining their first playoff berth as well.
Mora had a very talented defense to work with, and they employed a swarming attack to the ballcarrier that had not been seen since the 1985 Chicago Bears and really was not seen again until the 2001 Baltimore Ravens came around. But in 1987 as in later years Mora did not do well in the NFL playoffs losing to the Minnesota Vikings at home 44-10.
Despite the early exit, Mora was given the high NFL honor of Coach of The Year in 1987. Mora had decent years in 1988 and 1989 but could not get to the postseason. In 1990 Mora's Saints squeaked into the playoffs despite a 8-8 record, they traveled to Soldier Field in Chicago and lost to the Bears 16-6 in the wildcard game.
Mora set another Saints milestone in 1991 when, with a 11-5 record he captured the Saints' first NFC West division crown. But again the Saints stumbled in the post-season, losing at home to the Atlanta Falcons 27-20. It was notable that in 1991 the Saints allowed the fewest points of any team that year.
Mora and the Saints went to the playoffs again in 1992, and this time it looked like the Saints and Mora would get that elusive first playoff win. With the Saints holding a 20-7 in the 3rd quarter however, the Philadelphia Eagles roared back with 26 4th-quarter points to win the NFC Wild Card game, 36-20 over the Saints at home in the Superdome.
The Saints were not very good after that, and it appears that the losing grated on Mora, like it would any coach, but when Jim Mora had had enough, he will let you know. This led to one of his most famous quotes.
In 1996, the Saints were 2-6 and had just lost again to the Carolina Panthers, a team going nowhere itself. When asked about his thoughts on the game afterwards, Mora let loose with this gem:
"We couldn't do diddly-poo offensively. We couldn't get a first down. We couldn't run the ball. We didn't try to run the ball. We couldn't complete a pass. We sucked. It was a horses*** performance in the second half. Horses***. I'm totally embarrassed, and I'm totally ashamed. We got our ass kicked in the second half. It sucked. It stunk. Cuz they just blocked better, were more tougher, more physical, coached better, did everything better. We sucked."
After such a tirade, it was no wonder that Mora quit the next day, ending over 10 years of coaching the Saints. As the Saints coach, he amassed a 93-78 record, and made the playoffs four times, but he was 0-4 in those playoff contests.
Mora was not done with coaching yet however. after a year off in 1997, Mora returned to the NFL to be the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts another team in disarray. The team was a disaster the first year, but they had no talent, and the team ended up being 3-13. But thanks to Mora and the emergence of quarterback Peyton Manning, the team did a complete flip-flop in 1999 going 13-3 and making the playoffs. But even with a different team, Mora and the Colts lost to the Tennessee Titans at home 19-16.
The Colts under Mora were able to scratch together a 10-6 record in 2000 and get to the playoffs. But they again lost in the first round this time to the Miami Dolphins 23-17.
In 2001, the Colts stumbled badly out of the gate, going 4-6 and casuing many fans to call for Mora's head. Perhaps this pressure, along with a devastating loss to the San Francisco 49ers (where the Colts lost 40-21, with 5 offensive turnovers) caused Mora to lash out at his team in this fashion at the post game press conference:
"Let me start out saying this: Do NOT blame that game on the defense, OK? I don't care who you play, whether it's a high school team, a junior college team, a college team, much less an NFL team, when you turn the ball over five times ... you ain't gonna beat anybody. That was a disgraceful performance ... We gave it away. We gave them the frigging game. In my opinion, that sucked.
"You can't turn it over five times. Holy crap. I don't know who the hell we think we are when we do something like that ... We've thrown (five) interceptions returned for touchdowns. That might be a league record. And we've still got six games left, so there's no telling how many we'll have.
"I mean, it's absolutely pitiful to play like that. ... Horrible. Just horrible. Horrible."
He added, to the press: "Playoffs? Don't talk about playoffs. Are you kidding me? Playoffs?" he said. "I just hope we can win a game, another game."
Print really doesnt do this quote justice. When Mora says "Playoffs??" the second time, he cocks his head and the look on his face is priceless. This quote caused a uproar on the team and Mora was fired after the 2001 season.
In a profession as cutthroat as the NFL is, Jim Mora has nothing to be ashamed of. In his 15 year NFL career, he won 2 division titles and went to the playoffs 6 times. Yes he was 0-6 in those games, but how many coaches even get that far?
Today Jim Mora does some part time broadcasting
but is otherwise retired. However, his son Jim Mora Jr.
was named head coach of the Atlanta Falcons in 2003
so he ensures that there will be a Mora in the NFL for some time to come.
Jim Mora's NFL Coaching Won-Loss record
| Reg. Season | Playoffs |
| Year TM | W L T | W L |
| 1986 nor | 7 9 0 | 0 0 |
| 1987 nor | 12 3 0 | 0 1 |
| 1988 nor | 10 6 0 | 0 0 |
| 1989 nor | 9 7 0 | 0 0 |
| 1990 nor | 8 8 0 | 0 1 |
| 1991 nor | 11 5 0 | 0 1 |
| 1992 nor | 12 4 0 | 0 1 |
| 1993 nor | 8 8 0 | 0 0 |
| 1994 nor | 7 9 0 | 0 0 |
| 1995 nor | 7 9 0 | 0 0 |
| 1996 nor | 2 6 0 | 0 0 |
| 1998 ind | 3 13 0 | 0 0 |
| 1999 ind | 13 3 0 | 0 1 |
| 2000 ind | 10 6 0 | 0 1 |
| 2001 ind | 6 10 0 | 0 0 |
| TOTALS | 125 106 0 | 0 6 |