Close your eyes for a second and picture in your mind a coach of a highly successful sports team. Chances are that you’re seeing a man wearing a jacket with a team logo on it while holding a fat cigar in one hand. There’s just something about coaches that makes them love their cigars more than the average folk.
To pay tribute to the tradition of these cigar-loving men, we’re going to list the top four smoking coaches of all time. Besides the fact that they sure loved lighting up on the field, each of these men also accomplished some pretty amazing things during their stellar careers.
#4: Marcello Lippi (Former Soccer Coach)
We dare you to find a picture of Marcello Lippi on the field without a cigar in his hand. Having trouble? Without a doubt, this Italian soccer coach loved his cigars as much as he loved the game. And, with his steely-eyed demeanor combined with his astonishing success, he’s a legend who has earned the respect and slight fear of many.
Successes included a World Cup title in addition to five Serie A titles. In 1996 as well as 1998, he was named “best football manager” by International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS).
Perhaps Lippi’s success came from his philosophy on the game. Lippi strongly believed that players should work as a team rather than taking opportunities whenever possible to stand out among their peers. He stressed unity and mutual respect among teammates, often citing famous psychologists when outlining his strategies.
But, even the most casual soccer fans best remember him for his love of Mercator cigars.
#3: Bobby Cox (Former Baseball Clubhouse Manager)
Bobby Cox’s love of cigars perfectly matches his demeanor. A little rough around the edges but with a heart of gold, every picture of Cox shows him with a twinkle in his eye while he enjoys a smoke on the bench. Cox’s cigar-smoking is so legendary that the coach made headlines when he couldn’t enjoy his famous post-game smoke at Shea Stadium back in 2009 due to a change in policy.
No baseball fan can deny Cox’s incredible career with the Braves. He currently ranks fourth place as far as the baseball all-time managerial wins are concerned, which is no small feat. In 1995, he added a World Series win to his list of accomplishments.
So, why did Cox retire? Because he wanted to get to bed earlier.
#2: Arnold Jacob “Red” Auerbach (Former NBA Head Coach)
Trash-talking Arnold Jacob “Red” Auerbach was undoubtedly a cigar connoisseur, and practically every picture of him during his time as head coach of the NBA shows him clutching a stogie between his fingers. For an astounding 60 years, Auerbach and his signature cigar raised the standards of the NBA with impeccable supervision and ingenuity.
Auerbach smoked his cigars with pride right up until his death in 2006. At the time of his retirement, he had won a record 938 games. And, Auerbach changed the game, quite literally, by drafting the very first African-American basketball player in 1950.
Famously, Auerbach tended to light up cigars only after he felt that the game was about to be won. How much he enjoyed his hobby off the clock is unknown.
#1: Mike Ditka (Former NFL Head Coach)
No sports coach is more known for his love of cigars than Mike Ditka, former NFL superstar. No stranger to controversy, Ditka’s career has been colorful to say the least. But no matter what you think of his outspoken demeanor, you can’t deny that this guy knows his tobacco.
Ditka’s love of cigars is so strong that he has his own line. While he can no longer be found on the field, we do reckon that he continues to enjoy his smokes whenever he gets a chance.
True Cigar-Smoking Coaches
These four coaches have given us decades of sports entertainment while showing the world what it means to be a cigar-smoking boss.