In a post yesterday about the firing of Cam Cameron, Deadspin's Will Leitch lamented the possibility that Cameron might pursue work elsewhere:
"Please, no. Not because Cameron is inherently a bad coach -- though he might be -- and not because he's a bad guy or anything, but because a lifetime head coaching mark of 1-15 is the stuff of which legends are made. How do you not admire a guy who spends one season in the NFL, goes 1-15, and then never coaches again? It's freaking epic. Cam, you owe it to history to retire. Your name will never be forgotten."
As it happens, the Football Gods have a sense of humor about these things, and Cameron is not actually the first coach to post a 1-15 record in his debut season and then be shown the door without pity, remorse, or a future in the coaching profession. The original member of this exclusive club: New England's Rod Rust, the bridge that connected legendary leaders Raymond Berry and Dick MacPherson. Thank God Kraft and Parcells came along when they did.
So there, Miami. You can have your, "We were the first team to have an undefeated season and nobody can match that." Cam Cameron will always be second to Rod Rust.
In all, eight teams have finished a season 1-15. Two of them changed coaches midway through the year, six waited until the end of the season to start handing out walking papers, and two lived to coach another day.
2007 Miami Dolphins
Coach: Cam Cameron (1-15)*
First Win: Week 15 @ Baltimore, 22-16, in overtime
Fun Fact: Assuming the Miami gig was the end of his career as an NFL head coach, Cameron will join New England's Rod Rust as the only coaches with career 1-15 records.
2001 Carolina Panthers
Coach: George Seifert (114-62)*
First Win: Week 1 @ Minnesota, 24-13
Fun Fact: Seifert is the only head coach in history to win a Super Bowl in his first season at the helm and finish 1-15 in his final season. His 49ers finished 14-2 in 1989, leaving him one win shy of a perfect 15-1/1-15 bookend.
2000 San Diego Chargers
Coach: Mike Riley (14-34)
First Win: Week 13 vs. Kansas City, 17-16
Fun Fact: Actually, Mike Riley gets two fun facts. One, I think his name might be the most common in the world - not only is there a Major League Baseball umpire with the same name, I once worked with two Mike Rileys...at the same job. And two, the 2000 season was officially the Year 1 BLT (Before LaDainian Tomlinson) in San Diego.
1996 New York Jets
Coach: Rich Kotite (40-56)*
First Win: Week 9 vs. Arizona, 31-21
Fun Fact: Kotite's two-year won-lost record with the Jets was 4-28. Bill Parcells took over as head coach in 1997 and went 21-11 in his first two seasons.
1991 Indianapolis Colts
Coaches: Ron Meyer (54-50)* and Rick Venturi (2-17)
First Win: Week 11 vs. New York Jets, 28-27
Fun Fact: Meyer lost the first five games of the season before being replaced by Venturi. It was his last head coaching job in the NFL. Venturi, on the other hand, later guided the 1996 New Orleans Saints to a 1-7 record, finishing his career with a 2-17 lifetime mark.
1990 New England Patriots
Coach: Rod Rust (1-15)*
First Win: Week 2 @ Indianapolis, 16-14
Fun Fact: Content in the knowledge that while Cam Cameron has matched his historic achievement, he can only have the outside pole while Rod takes the inside pole.
1989 Dallas Cowboys
Coach: Jimmy Johnson (80-64)
First Win: Week 9 @ Washington, 13-3
Fun Fact: Remains the only coach to finish 1-15 in his first season (or ever) and later win a Super Bowl. And he managed to do it while replacing a legend (Tom Landry) and engaging in a power struggle with the owner (Jerry Jones).
1980 New Orleans Saints
Coaches: Dick Nolan (69-82-5)* and Dick Stanfel (1-3)*
First Win: Week 15 @ New York Jets, 21-20
Fun Fact: Dick Nolan coached the NFL's first 1-15 team to an 0-12 record before handing the reigns over to Stanfel, who managed to eke out that slim win over the Jets. Neither man worked as a head coach in the NFL again.