The Greeks had a word for it - hubris.
Ray Perkins doesn't spend his days in the shadow of the Parthenon, but ancient legend was filled with characters like the Tampa Bay coach fired Monday by owner Hugh Culverhouse.Less than four years after Culverhouse saluted Perkins as his Vince Lombardi, Perkins was waived. He interrupted a meeting of his assistant coaches, broke the news and broke down. Then he told his players, gathered some belongings and headed to the parking lot, snapping at reporters along the way.
Hubris, arrogance stemming from excessive pride, was Perkins' undoing at One Buccaneer Place. By refusing to delegate authority, he placed himself in the sole position of responsibility. He would receive all the credit, and, ultimately, all the blame.
"Coach didn't have a lot of emotion at the time," said tackle Rob Taylor, describing a chilly scene when the players were informed. "He's always been the guy who kind of states the facts. He basically said, 'I'm out of here.' He has a lot of emotion, he just doesn't show it."
Cracks in the Perkins facade started to show in recent weeks as fan frustration mounted during a six-game losing streak. After Sunday's 23-17 victory over Atlanta, Perkins was asked if the personal attacks hurt.
"No, I'm made of steel," he said, ripping off his lapel microphone.
Taking over for Leeman Bennett in 1987, Perkins likened the roster's talent level to that of an NFL expansion team, and quickly overhauled personnel. What he failed to address was the structure of his administration.
General manager? Unnecessary. Perkins can do it. Offensive coordinator? No, Perkins can handle that, too. From what side of the stadium the team stood on to the cover of the media guide, Perkins called the shots. All of 'em.
So when the losses mounted and Culverhouse faced an eighth consecutive losing season, he pulled the headphones off Perkins.
"I would not anticipate us going on a frenzy and making a lot of trades," Perkins said when taking the job on Dec. 31, 1986. "I believe totally in building through some good free agents, maybe a trade or two and primarily the draft."
Perkins violated that philosophy this summer when he dealt a first-round pick in 1992 to Indianapolis for a backup quarterback, Chris Chandler. That was a coach's trade, not a general manager's. After going 14-33, Perkins knew he had to win in 1990. An injury to quarterback Vinny Testaverde could wreck those plans, so he decided a No. 1 pick was expendable for an insurance policy.
Now the next Buccaneer coach will have to live with that choice.
"We were in a meeting when Ray told us the news," said interim coach Richard Williamson, who joined Perkins as receivers coach in 1987. "Ray was obviously very upset. When he told us, there was not a whole lot said. He got emotional, which is expected."
Not from Ray Perkins, it isn't. Perkins loved the banter with reporters, challenging questions and locking his blue eyes into a laser-beam stare. He always seemed far more relaxed in a one-on-one setting, where he felt no need to act in a character he crafted so carefully.
In training camp this summer, Perkins was told a national television reporter had just aired a profile of the Buccaneer coach, claiming his gruff exterior hid a soft heart.
"Oh, oh," he said in mock disappointment. "There goes the image."