Most coaches never played the game
Posted Jan. 26 at 02:08 AM
“Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach” (and those who can’t teach, teach teachers). That’s the old saying; and seems to apply to NFL coaching.
Super Sunday will feature a pair of coaches with no NFL playing experience – Mike McCarthy and Mike Tomlin – and that’s not unusual. The vast majority of NFL teams are headlined by a coach who never played in the pros, and those who did tended to be lesser-type players.
Right now in the league, only nine teams have coaches who played in the NFL, and only four of those were what you would call significant players. Leslie Frazier was a starting defensive back for the Super Bowl winning Bears. Jim Harbaugh and Jack Del Rio both played in one Pro Bowl; Del Rio was a linebacker with Minnesota; Harbaugh quarterbacked for various teams, most notably Chicago and Indianapolis.
This isn’t a new trend. If you look at the career leaders in coaching wins, you don’t see guys like Jim Brown, Jerry Rice, Johnny Unitas and Terry Bradshaw. You see a bunch of guys who were nominal NFL players if they played at all. Bill Walsh, Bill Parcells, Joe Gibbs, Bill Belichick; for whatever reason, they seemed to figure out something to elevate themselves above the many guys who were far superior as players.
The NFL’s current coaches are listed below. Note that if you include Mike Singletary, who was recently fired by the 49ers, than of the 10 former players who’ve been coaches in the last two years, all but four played for the Bears in the ‘80s.
HEAD COACHES WITH NFL PLAYING EXPERIENCE
QB with Chicago for 3 games in 1987 during player strike
QB for 14 years (140 starts); Chi., Ind., Balt., S.D.
Backup QB for 11 years (9 starts), mostly with Dallas & NYG
Backup QB in Denver for 9 years (5 starts)
Backup TE for 7 years (Atl/Wash/NYJ)
DB in Chicago for 5 years (20 interceptions)
DB/KR for Chicago for 4 years
Jack Del Rio
LB in Minnesota for 11 years (128 starts, 1 Pro Bowl)
LB with Chicago for 9 years (56 starts)
HEAD COACHES WITH NO NFL EXPERIENCE
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