The Origin Behind Brian Kelly’s “Execution” Joke, and Why it Didn’t Land

After an overtime thriller win in Tallahassee against a jacked-up Florida State team trying to honor the coach that put them on the map, Notre Dame’s head coach Brian Kelly had some interesting words about “execution”.

During an on-the-field interview with ABC’s Katie George, Kelly replied “I’m a fan of execution, maybe our entire team needs to be executed after tonight, but I mean we didn’t execute well”.

As the above tweet states, this is a poor attempt at a John McKay joke. McKay was the head coach of the terrible Tampa Bay Buccaneers back when they were wearing creamsicle uniforms.¬† Mckay was asked, “What do you think of your team’s execution?” That is where he responded, “I think it’s a good idea”. McKay was known for his dark humor and his quips. Kelly tried to channel that energy and failed miserably.

After the game, he explained himself, “It’s an old John McKay quote…I was kidding. It was tongue-in-cheek. It wasn’t funny? … I was talking and making a joke about it. It was taken serious? Are you people crazy?”

Yes, Brian, that’s how the internet works. No context, just judgment. Obviously he was making a joke and should be cut a little bit of slack. Personally, I do think the “joke” was inappropriate not just because of the subject matter, but because they won a game in an emotionally hostile environment. Give some credit to Florida State who never quit. Mention that your team needs to tighten things up, and walk away. Kelly’s adrenaline is pumping and he tried to make a joke that just didn’t land. The trick to landing this is to never actually say the word “execution”. Mckay’s genius was that he took the reporter’s words and twisted them to get the laugh. Kelly forces it and says the word “execution” and that is why it falls flat. Lastly, Kelly making any joke about death might be in poor taste after the tragic scissor lift incident in 2011.

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