Football has changed in immeasurable ways since the game's founding in the late 19th century and its streamlining into something resembling what we see today in the early part of the 20th century. One thing, though, has remained the same from the 1920s to today: the coach(es) on the sidelines -- directing traffic, barking instructions, conducing the human symphony that is the game of football.
However, it wasn't always that way, or at least it wouldn't have been if Fred Mandell had gotten his way.
An archived 1944 story, uncovered by the Twitter account @QuirkyResearch, tells of Mandell, as the Detroit Lions owner, trying to convince the NFL to allow coaches to wander freely on the field between the 20-yard lines. To avoid confusion with the players on the field, the coach would dress in a special uniform.
The proposal would have turned coaches into something between a baseball manager and a golf caddie.
Unfortunately for Mandell, this wasn't the only hare-brained idea he had when it came to the future of professional football. He bought the Lions in 1940 for $225,000, with money generated from his job as an executive for his family's department store, and sold them seven years later for $165,000. Mandel signed head coach Gus Dorias to a 5-year contract ahead of the 1947 season, on the heels of a 1-10 campaign in 1946. When the club went 3-9 in '47, Mandell bought out the final four years on Dorias's contract, which forced him to sell the team.
Maybe if Dorias has been allowed to coach Mandell's team from the field, the Lions wouldn't have stunk in 1947 and the Mandell family would own the team today, overseeing a Detroit dynasty.
Ah, who am I kidding. Some things are just destined to happen.