Top 26 Former NFL Players Turned Coaches
There are a number of great NFL players who have never decided to coach. There are also a great number of NFL coaches who never played a down in the NFL. But there are only so many NFL players who actually went on to become a NFL head coach.
You would think that somebody who has actually played the game at the highest level would be able to share his experiences and wisdom to his younger players and command their respect along the way. NFL players probably all have the thought at one point in time, as their careers start to wind down, what it would be like to become a head coach.
But they probably know first-hand how hard the job is, what kind of pressure comes from the job and how many hours the head coaches have to put in each week to win.
We also acknowledge that it is quite possible that somebody could have a short cup of coffee on either side of this equation. Really couldn't cut it as an NFL player, but excelled at coaching. Or, they were a great player for many years, but for whatever reason, were not that great at coaching.
Please note that we are focusing on the last 50 years of the NFL, as that time period provides us with enough candidates to come up with a solid list. We did not rank them, but are proud to include them in our list.
It is one thing to become a NFL head coach, and it is another to actually keep an NFL head coaching job. Today, we look at the top 26 NFL players who went on to become NFL head coaches.
There are more than just 26 who have gone this route, so if your favorite isn't included in this presentation, feel free to include him in the comments section below.
In 1979, Larry Wilson took over as the interim head coach for the Arizona Cardinals from legendary coach Bud Wilkinson. Wilson guided the Cardinals to a 2-1 record in the three games that he was asked to coach the team. The Cardinals then hired Jim Hanifan to take over as head coach, who kept the job from 1980-1985.
Wilson served the Cardinals in just about every conceivable capacity. For starters, he played in the NFL for the Cardinals from 1960-1972, where he made eight Pro Bowl teams and eight All-Pro teams. He was named to the NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team and is a member of both the 1960s All-Decade Team and the 1970s All-Decade Team. Wilson is ranked as the Cardinals' all-time interceptions leader with 52 career interceptions. He also specialized in blitzing the passer from his safety position.
Wilson went into the Hall of Fame in 1978 as a player. He served the Cardinals as Director of Scouting from 1973-1976. He was their Director of Personnel from 1977-1987. The next year is when he had the cup of coffee as the interim head coach for three games. After that, Wilson became the VP and General Manager from 1988-1993, and then served the team as VP from 1994-2002. The Cardinals have retired his No. 8 jersey. He was ranked No. 9 on NFL Network's list of the "Top 10 Draft Steals" in NFL history.
Staying with the Arizona Cardinals for a little while longer, we now come up to the modern day where we find Ken Whisenhunt as the head coach for the Cardinals.
Whisenhunt played in the NFL for four years as a tight end for the Atlanta Falcons (1985-1988), who drafted him in the 12th round. After his career with Atlanta ended, Whisenhunt had stints with both the Washington Redskins and the New York Jets. You could characterize Whisenhunt as a blocking back type of player. He retired from the NFL as an active player in 1993, having played nine years in the league.
A couple years later is when he started to go into coaching, starting at Vanderbilt University in 1995-1996 and then working his way from there to the NFL. Whisenhunt was a tight ends coach for three different NFL teams—Baltimore, New York Jets and Pittsburgh. He also coached in Cleveland as a special teams coach.
It wasn't until Whisenhunt evolved to be the offensive coordinator in Pittsburgh under Bill Cowher from 2004-2006 that he started getting consideration for a head coaching job.
In 2007, the Cardinals hired him as their head coach and he promptly led the Cardinals to their first Super Bowl appearance in 2008. Whisenhunt decided to go with Kurt Warner as his quarterback and led the team to three playoff wins before the Super Bowl loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Norm Van Brocklin
Norm Van Brocklin was a quarterback in the NFL for the Los Angeles Rams from 1949-1957 and for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1958-1960. When Van Brocklin retired as a player, he moved fairly quickly into coaching.
He served as the head coach for the Minnesota Vikings from 1961-1966 and for the Atlanta Falcons from 1968-1974. During his coaching days in Minnesota, the story goes that Van Brocklin didn't see eye to eye with quarterback Fran Tarkenton and they had an ongoing feud. Van Brocklin was the first head coach to lead the Atlanta Falcons to a winning season in their history.
Van Brocklin passed away in 1983 at the age of 57, as he died one day after a suffering a stroke.
As a player, Van Brocklin was named to nine different Pro Bowl teams in an 11-year stretch from 1950-1960. He was voted as MVP in 1960 and went on to win two NFL championships as a player. The first one was with the Los Angeles Rams in 1951 and the second came with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1960. Van Brocklin led the NFL in passing three times and led the NFL in punting two times, to show how versatile a player he was.
Dan Reeves definitely belongs on this list as he holds the record of most Super Bowl appearances as a player and/or coach with nine.
Reeves was a quarterback in college at South Carolina where he set passing records. He was not drafted by any NFL team coming out of college, but was signed by the Dallas Cowboys, who were originally interested in him as a safety. But the Cowboys switched him to running back, and that is where he excelled. Reeves played for the Cowboys from 1965-1972 .
According to Reeves' Wikipedia entry, Reeves played in two Super Bowls, Super Bowl V and Super Bowl VI and also was an assistant coach in three more, Super Bowl X, Super Bowl XII, Super Bowl XIII, and was Head Coach in four more Super Bowl XXI, Super Bowl XXII and Super Bowl XXIV as the Denver Broncos' head coach, and Super Bowl XXXIII as the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons.
Reeves served as assistant coach with the Dallas Cowboys from 1972-1980, and then he became the head coach of the Denver Broncos from 1981-1992. Following that were stops with the New York Giants from 1993-1996 and with the Atlanta Falcons from 1997-2003.
Don Shula was a defensive back in the NFL. He played for the Cleveland Browns in 1951 and was part of a 15-player trade that sent him to the Baltimore Colts where he played from 1953-1956. Shula finished his playing career with one year as a member of the Washington Redskins for 1957. Shula had 21 career interceptions and played in 73 games.
Then Shula embarked on his remarkable coaching career. He started at the University of Virginia and University of Kentucky for one year each before becoming the Defensive Coordinator for the Detroit Lions in 1960-1962. At the tender young age of 33, Shula then was hired to become the Head Coach of the Baltimore Colts, which is where he stayed until 1969. Then it was on to the Miami Dolphins where he really made his mark, coaching the team for 26 years, from 1970-1995.
During his career, Shula led the Dolphins to two Super Bowl Championships (Super Bowl VII and VIII). He won the AFC Championship five times and led the Dolphins to a division title 14 times. He owns the record for most regular season wins with 328 and has also appeared as the head coach for the most Super Bowl games in history (six times). One of those appearances was the infamous loss to Joe Namath and the New York Jets. Shula was named as NFL Coach of the Year four different times.
Tony Dungy didn't have a long career as a player in the NFL, but it was noteworthy nonetheless. Dungy went undrafted out of college and was signed in 1977 as a free agent by the Pittsburgh Steelers to be a safety and member of the special teams.
One interesting footnote is that in a game against Houston that year, Dungy intercepted a pass as safety, but was later forced to play emergency quarterback due to injuries to Terry Bradshaw and Mike Kruczek. He then threw an interception, so he experienced both sides of the interception coin in the same game. Nobody else has done that since.
Dungy was part of the Steelers' Super Bowl Championship team in 1978, and he led the Steelers in interceptions that year. The Steelers traded Dungy to San Francisco in 1979, where he stayed one year. He didn't survive training camp cuts with the New York Giants in 1980, and that was the end to his NFL career. Within a year, Dungy started up his coaching career, as he came back to Pittsburgh, where he served as defensive backs coach from 1981-1983.
From there, Dungy continued to hone his craft, as he was promoted to defensive coordinator from 1984-1988, but was unable to land a head coaching job anywhere. He then moved around the league, as the secondary coach at Kansas City from 1989-1991 and the defensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings from 1992-1995. Dungy finally landed his first head coaching job with the Tampa Bay Bucs from 1996-2001 and then he finished his coaching career as head man with Indianapolis from 2002-2008.
Dungy won Super Bowl XIII as a player and Super Bowl XLI as head coach. He was elected to the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team as the head coach. His coaching record was 139-69, which is good for a winning percentage of 68.8.
Jim Ringo is in the NFL Hall of Fame (1981 class), but he was inducted more for his playing career, than for his coaching career. The Green Bay Packers drafted Ringo as a center from Syracuse University in 1953 in the seventh round. Ringo came in to the game as a small center, since he only weighed 211 pounds. Ringo was able to last 15 years in the league due to being quick and using great technique.
Ringo was named to nine straight Pro Bowls from 1957-1965, and was All-Pro every year from 1959-1963. Ringo was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles in 1964, where he appeared in three more Pro Bowls and retired following the 1967 season. Ringo was named to the 1960s NFL All-Decade team.
Ringo then began coaching. He started off with the Chicago Bears as offensive line coach from 1969-1971. From there he became the Buffalo Bills o-line coach from 1972-1976. In 1976, Lou Saban resigned as head coach, and Ringo took over the job. He stayed for the 1977 season as well, which is where he created the great Bills offensive line known as the Electric Company, which paved the way for O.J. Simpson to break the 2,000-yard barrier in rushing.
Ringo left the Bills after the 1977 season, but returned in 1985 to be both the offensive coordinator and the o-line coach, which is what he did until he decided to leave the coaching ranks in 1988. Other offensive line coaching jobs Ringo held included: New England Patriots (1979-1981), Los Angeles Rams (1982), and the New York Jets (1983-1984).
Ringo passed away in 2007.
Not everybody on this list is going to be an All-Decade player or Super Bowl winning coach. Mike Mularkey is neither, but he fits the criteria that we established in the first slide.
Mularkey was drafted in the ninth round as a tight end by the San Francisco 49ers in 1983. The 49ers waived him prior to final cuts, and he then was picked up by the Minnesota Vikings, where he played from 1983-1988. In 1989 Mularkey signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers as a free agent and played with them until he retired from football in 1991. During his NFL career, Mularkey played in 114 games, caught 102 passes, scored nine touchdowns and gained 1,222 yards. He had 46 career starts in the NFL.
Mularkey joined the coaching ranks finally in 1994, where he served as tight end coach at Tampa Bay from 1994-1995. He coached the tight ends at the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1996-2000, and was then promoted to offensive coordinator from 2001-2003. He then landed a head coaching job with the Buffalo Bills from 2004-2005. When the Bills hired ex-head coach Marv Levy to be the new general manager, Mularkey resigned as he did not want to be directly another ex-coach that would be overseeing him.
After leaving the Bills, Mularkey was the offensive coordinator for Miami in 2006 and coached their tight ends in 2007. From 2008-present, he has been the Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator. For those who are curious, Mularkey's record as head coach at Buffalo was 14-18.
Dick Jauron was a fourth-round draft pick of the Detroit Lions in 1973 and became a rookie starter at free safety. Jauron also doubled as a punt returner and led the NFC in punt return average in 1974, which is why he was named to the Pro Bowl team. Jauron played for Detroit until 1977, and then he joined the Cincinnati Bengals from 1978-1980. Jauron retired as a player in 1980 and wound up with 25 career interceptions and two touchdowns.
Jauron didn't get into coaching in the NFL until 1985, when he joined the Buffalo Bills staff as defensive backs coach. He then jumped to Green Bay, where he held that same job from 1986-1994. The Jacksonville Jaguars gave Jauron an offer to be their defensive coordinator in 1995 and he lasted in that capacity until 1998. Jauron finally got his first head coaching job with the Chicago Bears in 1999-2003, and it was there in 2001 that he was named as AP NFL Coach of the Year.
After the Bears fired him, Jauron went back to his original NFL team, when he became the Detroit Lions defensive coordinator from 2004-2005. In 2005, the Lions made him their interim head coach, but wouldn't commit to him as the head coach in 2006, so Jauron accepted the offer to be the head coach of the Buffalo Bills. Jauron was there until 2009, when the Bills fired him midseason. Jauron had identical records of 7-9 for all three full seasons in Buffalo.
Jauron moved on to be the Philadelphia Eagles' defensive backs coach in 2010 and then joined the Cleveland Browns this year to become their defensive coordinator.
Dick Nolan was a corner and safety in the NFL. His career lasted for nine years, but it began when he was drafted in the fourth round by the New York Giants in the 1954 draft. During his career, Nolan also played for the Chicago Cardinals and then he ended his career with the Dallas Cowboys in 1962. Those were the days when teams had "player-coaches," so Nolan started out the year in Dallas as a member of the secondary and finished the year as a coach after he got hurt.
Nolan stayed for six more years in Dallas so that he could learn under head coach Tom Landry. When Nolan was ready to move on, he was tabbed as the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers and held that job from 1968-1975. Nolan led the 49ers to three straight NFC West division titles from 1970-1972.
Nolan also was the head coach for the New Orleans Saints from 1978-1980, and he brought the team to respectability, going 7-9 in 1978 and 8-8 in 1979. The Saints, however, bottomed out in 1980, coming out of the gates with an 0-12 start, so they fired Nolan.
Nolan passed away in 2007 at the age of 75.
Jeff Fisher was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the seventh round of the 1980 draft. In five years with the Bears, Fisher was a defensive back and a punt return man. Even though he wound up on the I.R. in 1985, Fisher received a Super Bowl ring when the Bears won the Super Bowl. It wasn't the first time that Fisher was injured, as he also suffered a broken leg in 1983. He was tackled on that play by Bill Cowher, who was playing then for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Fisher took advantage of his time on I.R. and started learning more about defense as an assistant to Buddy Ryan. Ryan left to become the Philadelphia Eagles' head coach, and Fisher followed to become the secondary coach. In 1988, Ryan promoted Fisher to defensive coordinator, which is quite a big job to land when you are just 30. Fisher led the Eagles defense to lead the league in interceptions and sacks. He followed that up in the next years by leading in rushing defense and was second in sacks.
From there, Fisher was the defensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams in 1991, and then the secondary coach for the San Francisco 49ers from 1992-1993. Then Fisher became defensive coordinator in Houston in 1994. That year, Fisher took over as interim head coach when Jack Pardee was fired, and was then retained as head coach starting in 1995. The team eventually relocated to Tennessee and Fisher led the team to their only Super Bowl appearance in Super Bowl XXXIV.
That game was the famous play when Kevin Dyson was tackled one yard from the tying touchdown on the final play of regulation. Fisher wound up coaching the Tians for 16 full seasons, until the teams came to a mutual understanding and parted ways in January of 2011.
Herm Edwards played in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles from 1977-1986. He played in Super Bowl XV for the Eagles. Edwards made 33 interceptions during his career in Philadelphia. But Edwards was released when Buddy Ryan took over the team in 1986. Edwards tried to catch on with the Los Angeles Rams and the Atlanta Falcons later that year, but didn't stick, so he retired from the game.
While with the Eagles, Edwards was the player that recovered the infamous fumble from New York Giants quarterback Joe Pisarcik. It is because of that play that teams now line up in the victory formation to kill the clock at the end of the game.
With his playing career over, Edwards turned to coaching and scouting. He coached the secondary at San Jose State from 1987-1989 and then became a scout and secondary coach for the Kansas City Chiefs from 1990-1995. Then Edwards joined Tony Dungy in Tampa Bay where he became the secondary coach and assistant head coach from 1996-2000. Then, the New York Jets hired Edwards to become their head coach in 2001.
Edwards coached the Jets for five years and went 39-41 over that time. The last year in New York was pretty bad (4-12 record), so the Jets decided to trade Edwards to the Kansas City Chiefs for a fourth-round draft pick in the 2006 draft.
Edwards coached the Chiefs from 2006-2008 and was then fired in January of 2009. Edwards' regular season coaching record was 54-74. He is now an analyst at ESPN.
Tom Landry began his career playing for the All-America Football Conference for one year (1949), after which he started his NFL career with the New York Giants from 1950-1955. Landry was a defensive back and the Giants asked him to be a player/assistant coach starting in 1954 and Landry did that for two season (1954-1955). That 1954 season turned out to be Landry's best, as he was named to the Pro Bowl and was First-Team All-Pro that year.
After 1955, Landry retired as a player and focused solely on coaching. During his playing career which lasted 80 games, Landry made 32 career interceptions.
Landry served the Giants as their defensive coordinator from 1956-1959. Then, he got the call to become the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, and he held that job from 1960-1988. During Landry's coaching career at Dallas, he was named the UPI Coach of the Year twice (1966 and 1975). Landry holds the Cowboys' career record with 250 wins, and led the Cowboys to two Super Bowl Championships (Super Bowl VI, and Super Bowl XII).
Landry guided the Cowboys to five NFC Championships and his overall regular season record was 250-162-6.
Chuck Noll was a linebacker for the Cleveland Browns from 1953-1959. I wasn't able to learn much about his career due to those dates, but learned that he had eight interceptions in the NFL.
After he retired in 1959, Noll coached the defensive line for the San Diego Chargers from 1960-1961, then he was the defensive coordinator for the Baltimore Colts from 1962-1965. Noll then served as defensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1966-1968 and then he finally became the Steelers head coach in 1969. The rest, as they say, is history.
Noll coached the Steelers from 1969-1991. During those years, Noll was voted Coach of the Year in both 1972 and 1989. He was named the head coach on the NFL 1980's All-Decade team. He won four Super Bowls with the Steelers; Super Bowls XIV, XII, X and IX.
Noll's regular season career record was 209-156-1. Noll was selected to be a member of the NFL Hall of Fame in 1993.
Jack Del Rio
Jack Del Rio was a third-round draft pick for the New Orleans Saints in the 1985 NFL Draft. He played linebacker in the NFL for the Saints from 1985-1986, for the Kansas City Chiefs from 1987-1988, for the Dallas Cowboys from 1989-1991 and for the Minnesota Vikings from 1992-1995.
During his career, Del Rio made one Pro Bowl team and one All-Pro team (1994). In 1996, he was in camp with the Miami Dolphins but lost his job to rookie Zach Thomas, so Del Rio decided to retire.
Del Rio appeared in 160 games and came up with 13 interceptions and 13 sacks.
Following his retirement, Del Rio became the strength and conditioning coach for the New Orleans Saints in 1997-1998, then he became the Baltimore Ravens' linebacker coach in 1999-2001, and was the defensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers in 2002. That was all the study time he needed on the job, as he became the Jacksonville Jaguars' head coach in 2003, and he still holds that position today.
Del Rio was part of the Baltimore Ravens' coaching staff that won Super Bowl XXXV. Del Rio still is under contract until the 2012 season. At the end of the 2010 season, his record in Jacksonville was 65-63 for regular season games.
Bill Cowher was an undrafted rookie free agent coming out of college. He signed a deal to play in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1979. Cowher was a linebacker in the NFL. He left to play for the Cleveland Browns from 1980-1982. But the Browns traded him to Philadelphia, where he played from 1983-1984. Cowher was a member of the Eagles' special teams and in one game he tackled Jeff Fisher on a return play. The tackle injured Fisher and ended his NFL career.
Cowher retired in 1984 as a player and began his coaching career in 1985. He returned to the Browns, where he served as special teams coach from 1985-1986. Then he coached the Browns secondary from 1987-1988. Cowher moved to Kansas City, where he became the Chiefs' defensive coordinator from 1989-1991, and then he caught his big break when the Pittsburgh Steelers offered him a head-coaching job in 1992, which he held until 2006.
During Cowher's career, his regular season record was 149-90-1, for a winning percentage of .623. He coached 240 games in Pittsburgh. He led the Steelers to a Super Bowl victory in Super Bowl XL and led them to two AFC Championships in 1995 and 2005. Cowher was voted the NFL Coach of the Year in 1992 and in 2004. His playoff record in Pittsburgh was 12-9.
Art Shell was a Hall of Fame tackle in the NFL. He played for the Oakland Raiders from 1968-1982 and played in Super Bowls XI and XV. During his career, Shell was named to eight Pro Bowl teams. Shell ranked No. 55 on the The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Football Players.
Shell was elected to the NFL Hall of Fame in 1989. He was named to eight Pro Bowl teams and made First-Team All-Pro three times. He was a member of the NFL 1970s All-Decade team.
After Shell's playing career ended in 1982, he began his coaching career with the Oakland Raiders in 1983, serving as an assistant coach from 1983-1989. In 1989, the Raiders promoted Shell to head coach of the team. Shell coached the Los Angeles Raiders from 1989-1994. Shell was voted coach of the year in 1990.
Shell coached the Los Angeles Raiders to a regular season record of 54-38. When the Raiders record, dipped to 9-7 in 1994, Shell was fired by Al Davis. After that, Shell moved on to coach with the Kansas City Chiefs from 1995-1996 and then the Atlanta Falcons from 1997-2000.
After being out of coaching for six years, Al Davis brought back Art Shell for one more year as the team's head coach, in 2006, which was his last year in coaching.
Marty Schottenheimer faced a dilemma coming out of college in 1965. He was drafted in the fourth round of the NFL draft by the Baltimore Colts, and was drafted in the seventh round by the Buffalo Bills of the AFL.
Who should he play for?
Well, Schottenheimer picked the Bills, and played linebacker for them from 1965-1968. Schottenheimer was part of the Bills' 1985 AFL Championship team and was named to the AFL All-Star team. He also played for the Boston Patriots in the AFL from 1969-1970.
Schottenheimer was then traded twice in the 1971 season, to the Pittsburgh Steelers and to the Baltimore Colts, which was like a full circle for him. That year, Schottenheimer retired as a player.
Schottenheimer got into coaching in 1974 when he was the linebackers coach for the Portland Storm of the World Football League. He went from there to the New York Giants in 1975 and was promoted to their defensive coordinator role in 1977. He then coached the linebackers for the Detroit Lions from 1978-1979. The Cleveland Browns then hired him to be their defensive coordinator in 1980, and he kept that job until the Browns made him their head coach during the 1984 season.
Schottenheimer coached the Browns from 1984-1988 and had a record of 44-27 (.620) regular season record. He also led the Browns to two AFC Championship Games, which were both close losses to the Denver Broncos. From there he moved to the Kansas City Chiefs, coaching them for 10 years (1989-1998) and racking up a record of 101-58-1. Once again, Schottenheimer led his team to an AFC Championship game, but they lost again. This time it was to his old team, the Buffalo Bills.
Schottenheimer next coached the Washington Redskins in 2001. He went 8-8 there, but Daniel Snyder fired him after one year on the job. That is when Schottenheimer began his coaching job with the San Diego Chargers. He stayed there from 2002-2007. Schottenheimer just couldn't direct his teams to win in the playoffs, as the Chargers lost to both the New York Jets and to the New England Patriots. His playoff record stands at 5-13.
He was named NFL Coach of the Year for the 2004 NFL season. In 2011, Schottenheimer agreed to coach the Virginia Destroyers of the United Football League.
Jim Haslett was drafted in the second round of the 1979 NFL draft by the Buffalo Bills. Haslett played linebacker for the Bills from 1979-1985. He was named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. He finished his career playing one year for the New York Jets in 1987. Well after his playing days were over, Haslett admitted to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he used steroids while playing for the Buffalo Bills to gain a competitive advantage. In 94 games, Haslett had six interceptions and four and a half sacks.
After his playing career ended, Haslett got into coaching. He started as an assistant coach at the University of Buffalo from 1988-1990. Haslett finally started coaching in the NFL as the linebackers coach for the Los Angeles Raiders in 1993, and then did the same with the New Orleans Saints in 1995, who then promoted him to defensive coordinator in 1996. Then Haslett became the Pittsburgh Steelers' defensive coordinator from 1997-1999.
Then the Saints came calling again, this time offering him their head coaching job in 2000. Haslett stayed there as head coach from 2000-2005. In his first year, Haslett coached the Saints to their first ever playoff win. He also was named NFL Coach of the Year in 2000. 2005 turned out to be a rough year, as the team was not playing well (3-13) and Hurricane Katrina hit. Haslett was fired.
The St. Louis Rams then hired Haslett to be their defensive coordinator from 2006-2007. He was named interim head coach in 2008, but was not asked back to be the head coach in 2009. With no other viable offers, Haslett became the head coach of the Florida Tuskers of the United Football League. Haslett then came back to the NFL as the defensive coordinator of the Washington Redskins in 2010, which is where he still is today.
Mike Singletary will be known more for his career as a player in the NFL than as a head coach, based on how things worked out last year in San Francisco. Singletary didn't get his first start as a linebacker for the Chicago Bears until Week 7 of his rookie year in 1981. Singletary turned in a solid game, and wound up starting 172 total games for the Bears as their star middle linebacker.
Singletary would play with a very intense motor, and it looked like his eyes were going to pop out of his head.
Singletary recorded 1,488 career tackles in his 12 years with the Bears. In those 12 years, he missed only two games. He also made seven interceptions and 12 fumble recoveries. Singletary was named to 10 Pro Bowl teams and was named to eight All-Pro teams. His best year was in 1985, when he led the Bears defense to a 15-1 record and he was named as NFL Defensive Player of the Year. The Bears went on to win Super Bowl XX when they easily handled the New England Patriots 46-10. Singletary was also NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1988.
Singletary was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1998. In 1999, he was ranked No. 56 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Football Players. Singletary retired as a player in 1992, but did not enter the coaching ranks until 2003.
When he decided to get into coaching, Singletary joined the Baltimore Ravens as linebackers coach from 2003-2004. From there, he went to the San Francisco 49ers from 2005-2008, where he served as assistant head coach and linebackers coach. He was promoted to interim head coach in 2008 and then was hired on as the head coach for 2009-2010. As head coach, his methods of trying to motivate players were quite puzzling and he conducted practices where players got hurt badly.
The 49ers fired Singletary after the 2010 season. This year, he joined the Minnesota Vikings where he is reunited with former teammate Leslie Frazier of the Chicago Bears. At Minnesota, Singletary is the linebackers coach and assistant head coach.
|Team(s) as a coach/administrator|
San Francisco 49ers
Assistant Head Coach/Linebackers Coach
San Francisco 49ers
Interim Head Coach
San Francisco 49ers
Leslie Frazier was a defensive back for the Chicago Bears from 1981-1985. Frazier won a Super Bowl ring at Super Bowl XX. That season, Frazier led the Bears team with six interceptions. While returning a punt in the Super Bowl, Frazier suffered a serious knee injury that ended his career as a player.
With his playing career over, Frazier decided to get into coaching. His first coaching job was a start-up, where be became the very first head coach at Trinity College (Illinois). He was there from 1988-1996. In 1997, Frazier moved on to the University of Illinois as its secondary coach. Frazier then made the jump to coaching in the NFL when he became secondary coach for rookie head coach Andy Reid's staff with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1999-2002.
Then Frazier became defensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals from 2003-2004. After that, he joined Tony Dungy as defensive backs coach for the Indianapolis Colts from 2005-2006. Frazier was part of the coaching staff at Indy that won Super Bowl XLI. After that, the Minnesota Vikings scooped up Frazier to be their defensive coordinator under Brad Childress, which he did from 2007-2010 when the Vikings fired Childress and made Frazier the interim head coach.
Frazier became the full-time head coach in 2011.
Gary Kubiak has the distinction of participating in six Super Bowls. He lost three times as a member of the Denver Broncos and won three rings as an assistant coach with the Broncos and San Francisco 49ers. Kubiak began his NFL career in 1983 when he was drafted in the eighth round by the Denver Broncos, and as luck would have it, the Colts traded John Elway to the Broncos from that same draft class. Kubiak served as the permanent master apprentice to Elway for nine years (1983-1991).
During his career, Kubiak started five games, threw 14 touchdowns, 16 interceptions and threw for 1,920 yards. Kubiak retired as a player after the 1991 season, and in 1992 he began his coaching career when he coached the running backs at Texas A&M from 1992-1993. From there he became the quarterbacks coach for the San Francisco 49ers in 1994. After that, he became the Denver Broncos offensive coordinator from 1995-2005.
After 11 years running the Broncos offense, the Houston Texans offered Kubiak their head coaching job, which is a job he has held from 2006-now. Coming into the 2011 season, Kubiak's regular record was 37-42 with the Texans.
Mike Munchak is another of the brand new NFL head coaches who have been making their debuts this year. Munchak has spent his entire NFL career with the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans organization. He was drafted in the first round of the 1982 draft by the Oilers with the eighth overall draft pick as a guard. Munchak played for the Oilers from 1982-1993. During that time, Munchak was named to nine Pro Bowl teams, was a 10-time All-Pro selection and was a member of the NFL 1980s All-Decade team.
Munchak retired as a player in 1993 and then began his coaching career in 1994, when he became the Oilers' offensive assistant and quality control coach. Then in 1997, Munchak became the offensive line coach, which was a role he assumed for 14 seasons.
When the Titans released Jeff Fisher, they named Munchak as his successor. 2011 is his first year as head coach of the organization that he has worked 30 years for.
Jim Harbaugh was a first-round draft pick of the Chicago Bears in 1987. Harbaugh was a quarterback and played in Chicago from 1987-1993. His best year was in 1991, when he passed for his career-best of 3,121 yards. Harbaugh then moved on to the Indianapolis Colts from 1994-1997, where he led the Colts to the AFC Championship game in 1995. That season, he became NFL Comeback Player of the Year and was named to the Pro Bowl team, while being the runner-up for NFL MVP. Quite a year.
When the Colts drafted Peyton Manning in 1998, they traded Harbaugh to the Baltimore Ravens. One season later, he joined the San Diego Chargers where he played from 1999-2000. Harbaugh jumped to the Detroit Lions in 2001, but they released him, so he signed with the Carolina Panthers, but did not play. Harbaugh then retired as a player. During his career, Harbaugh appeared in 177 games and started 140 of them. He threw for over 25,000 yards and threw 129 touchdown passes.
Harbaugh then began his coaching career, which started at Western Kentucky where he was an assistant coach from 1994-2001. He then became the quarterbacks coach for the Oakland Raiders from 2002-2003. After that, he took the head coaching job at the University of San Diego from 2004-2006. Then he moved up north to Stanford, where he was head coach from 2007-2010. Finally, he returned back to the NFL as a head coach, taking the San Francisco 49ers job in 2011.
Forrest Gregg was one of the best offensive tackles to ever play in the NFL. Gregg was drafted in the second round in 1956 by the Green Bay Packers, where he played from 1956-1970. While there, he was named All-NFL for eight straight years, and named to nine Pro Bowl teams. Gregg finished his career with a one-year stay with the Dallas Cowboys in 1971. During his career, he played in 188 consecutive games, which was a NFL record at the time.
Gregg played on six NFL championship teams during his career. In 1999, he was ranked No. 28 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Football Players.
Gregg began his coaching career as an offensive line coach for the San Diego Chargers from 1972-1973. He held a similar job with the Cleveland Browns in 1974 and then was named head coach with the Browns until 1977. Gregg took a job coaching the Toronto Argonauts for a year in 1979 and then came back to the states to be the head coach for the Cincinnati Bengals from 1980-1983.
After that, Gregg coached his old team, the Green Bay Packers, from 1984-1987. Then he went to the college level, when he coached SMU from 1989-1990. His final coaching job was with the Shreveport Pirates from 1994-1995.
Gregg was named on the NFL's 75th Anniversary All-Time Team and on the NFL 1960s All-Decade team. Gregg was enshrined at the NFL Hall of Fame in 1977.
Mike Ditka was drafted in the first round of the 1961 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears to play tight end. Ditka played for the Bears from 1961-1966. Ditka had a big rookie season in Chicago and earned NFL Rookie of the Year award. Ditka was named to the Pro Bowl team each year in Chicago and won a championship in 1963 while with the Bears. Ditka then played for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1967-1968 and finally played for the Dallas Cowboys from 1969-1972. He won a Super Bowl ring with Dallas in Super Bowl VI.
Ditka was the first tight end ever inducted into the Hall of Fame, class of 1988.
After he decided to retire as a player in 1972, Ditka joined the Dallas Cowboys' coaching staff so he could continue to work under Tom Landry. Ditka coached there from 1973-1981. George Halas then asked Ditka to take over as the Bears head coach, which he did from 1982-1992. During that time period, Ditka led Chicago to six NFC Central championships and three NFC Championship Game appearances. The pinnacle of course was Super Bowl XX, when the Bears beat New England 46-10.
Ditka finished his coaching career with the New Orleans Saints, where he coached from 1997-1999. It was at New Orleans where Ditka came up with the plan to trade his entire 1999 draft class along with the first-round pick in 2000 to the Washington Redskins to move up in the draft to select Ricky Williams. Ditka was fired in 1999 due to the Saints' miserable performance.
Ditka coached the Bears to a record of 106-62, and he finished the New Orleans job with a mark of 15-33.