Veteran tight end Jeff King has seen a lot in his seven NFL seasons, so when news came down Monday morning that the Arizona Cardinals had relieved head coach Ken Whisenhunt and general manager Rod Graves of their duties, he wasn’t all that shocked.
“You always know that it’s a possibility, but until the reality comes down you don’t want to believe it,” King said.
This is nothing new for Arizona’s veteran tight end, though. King was a member of the 2010 Carolina Panthers that went 2-14 before canning head coach John Fox on “Black Monday” after nine years of service.
Even so, King admitted to Arizona Sports 620’s Doug & Wolf that the news was still upsetting to hear from a player’s perspective.
“I’ve been part of one of these before in Carolina when John Fox got let go and it’s always a little bit unsettling,” King said. “To some degree you take a lot of ownership in why a coach got fired.”
There are plenty of reasons that likely led to the decision to fire Whisenhunt Monday, but as King noted, at the end of the season all that matters are wins and losses. While 2012 began with so much promise as the Cardinals raced out to a 4-0 record, a 1-11 finish combined with season-long issues at quarterback and along the O-line didn’t help matters for the offensive-minded Whisenhunt.
“Ultimately, it falls on the players to make plays, and we didn’t make enough for coach and Rod Graves to keep their jobs in the eyes of Mr. Bidwill,” said King. “It’s a bittersweet day.
“We just finished another season in the NFL, which you should be proud to do. But on the other hand, a guy who you looked up to [in Ken Whisenhunt], and for me, a guy who brought me to Arizona [in Rod Graves] were fired, which makes it tough.”
King, who had 17 catches for 129 yards in 2012, was signed by Graves to a three-year deal in July 2011.
While Arizona finished 2012 with a higher win total than Carolina had in 2010, the former Virginia Tech star said he did see parallels between Fox’s and Whisenhunt’s departures.
“There are a lot of parallels between the two from the way they both went out to the uncertainty we had at the quarterback position in Carolina those last couple of years,” said King. “Now, with what we are going through in Arizona, it’s very similar to what happened before.”
For fans in the Valley, the parallels between the two teams will hopefully end there. The Panthers hired Ron Rivera to replace Fox in 2011. In two seasons under Rivera, Carolina is just 11-21.