Call Adam Gase King Midas because everything he touches turns to gold … as soon as he leaves. Like fellow NFL punchlines Jeff Fisher and Hue Jackson, Gase—once hailed as a “quarterback whisperer”—has become a cautionary tale, exemplifying everything a head coach should aspire not to be. Armed with a non-existent bedside manner and not nearly enough play-calling acumen to make up for it, the abrasive 43-year-old now finds himself out of football altogether and for good reason.
Sam Darnold’s renaissance in Carolina this season on the heels of an often-disastrous Jets tenure has made Gase the subject of renewed criticism with many lamenting his gross mishandling of a promising young quarterback overflowing with untapped potential. Darnold’s emergence, however, is just the tip of the iceberg, as noted by Kevin Clark of The Ringer, who cited numerous instances of teams and players finding immediate success in their post-Gase endeavors.
Darnold and Ryan Tannehill (who has reinvented himself as a Titan, erasing the “underachiever” label that stuck with him throughout his seven-year run in Miami) serve as the most recent examples, but the Gase “curse” began—at least in Clark’s estimation—years, if not decades earlier. For proof, look no further than the Broncos, who were crowned Super Bowl Champions the year following Gase’s departure as offensive coordinator. The same could be said of LSU, with the Nick Saban-led Tigers soaring to the pinnacle of college football as National Champions in 2003, one year after Gase left Baton Rouge to pursue an NFL scouting position with the Lions. Even more remarkably, Gase’s high-school alma mater in his hometown of Marshall, Michigan, won a state title mere months after his graduation in 1996.
By that logic, teams should be lining up to hire Gase, simply to reap the rewards after his inevitable firing. Gase’s inexplicable healing powers, resurrecting failed programs and organizations by the sheer act of leaving, closely parallels the Brady Effect, a well-documented phenomenon with teams in close proximity to Tom Brady becoming unstoppable, seemingly overnight (hence the recent success of the Buccaneers, Rays and Lightning). However, one team—the 2008 Detroit Lions—experienced the opposite fate, going winless (0-16) the year after Gase left them.
The sports realm is littered with oddities like these, many of them the product of pure coincidence. In all likelihood, the former Jets and Dolphins coach falls into the latter category, a victim of impossibly bad luck, though if Darnold continues to excel without him, don’t expect the Gase narrative to die down anytime soon.