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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Did you know that Five Father-Son Combos Have Been NFL Head Coaches?

Did you know that?

there have been more than 160 father-son combinations that have played in the NFL, including seven sons of Pro Football Hall of Famer?

Did you know that  there have been just five sons of former NFL head coaches that have ascended to the same position?

Bum and Wade Phillips

Bum and Wade Phillips: No son of a former NFL head coach has come remotely close to enjoying the success of Wade Phillips. In fact, one could argue the point that Wade's career numbers, 73-51 (.589) entering last week's game with Atlanta, are more impressive than his father's record of 82-77 (.516), although the latter did win four postseason games with Houston in the late-1970s.

Bum is still going strong, too, having celebrated his 86th birthday a day after Dallas defeated Carolina on Monday Night Football on Sept. 28.
Entering Week 7 of the 2009 campaign, Wade's 73 career wins were 42 more than any other second generation NFL head coach.
The Phillips family endured numerous relocations when Wade was younger, as his father worked his way up the coaching ladder, first at the high school level, then college. Wade once said, "Wherever we lived, everyone in town loved Dad. I realized if I wanted to see much of him, I'd have to go down to the field house."
Wade played for his father as a two-way starter, quarterback and linebacker at Port Neches-Groves (Texas) High School before the duo headed to the University of Houston, Bum again coaching his son as the defensive coordinator. After his playing days, Wade immediately entered the coaching ranks, often serving as an assistant to his father and eventually, with the New Orleans Saints from 1981-85, as his father's defensive coordinator.
While he was working as the defensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos a few years before landing his first non-interim head coaching position with them in 1993, Wade Phillips told Sports Illustrated, "When I was growing up, people thought bitching was coaching. But players eventually turn off the guys who yell and scream. My father once told me, 'Don't coach the way you were coached. Coach the way you are.' I don't believe in coaching by fear. I believe in coaching by teaching."
The Phillips are believed to be the first three-generation coaching family of the NFL, with Wade's son, Wesley, in his third season as an offensive assistant with the Cowboys.

Don and David Shula
Don and David Shula: Speaking of Bum Phillips, another of his iconic quips was in reference to Don Shula, "He can take his'n and beat your'n and take your'n and beat his'n."
And beat your'n Shula did more than any coach in NFL history, posting 328 career wins with the Colts and Dolphins. For perspective, if a coach won 11 games per season for 30 years, that would break Shula's record by two. Want to put together a list of unbreakable NFL records, start with 328 and work from there.
Alas, for David Shula, NFL head coaching success wasn't an inherited gene. The offensive coordinator of the Cowboys during Jimmy Johnson's first two seasons, 1989-90, Shula was named the head coach of the Bengals in 1992. At the time, he was the third-youngest head coach in league history, just five months shy of his 33rd birthday. Less than five years thereafter, he was fired after compiling a 19-53 record. He hasn't coached in the NFL since.
A footnote to the father-son angle is that the Shulas actually coached against one another, a first in professional sports history, with Miami defeating Cincinnati, 23-7, on Oct. 2, 1994.
"I looked over at the sideline during the national anthem and I felt proud seeing David across the way," Don Shula said after the historic game. "Then the game started, and it was just football."

Jim E. and Jim L. Mora

Jim E. and Jim L. Mora: One of three active head coaches who are sons of former NFL mentors, Jim Lawrence Mora is the lone offspring to have ever won a playoff game, having led the Atlanta Falcons past Green Bay in his first season at the helm in 2004. That initial promise quickly faded, though, with 8-8 and 7-9 finishes thereafter. However, he was hired in Seattle in 2007 as the head coach-in-waiting to Mike Holmgren, who stepped down following last season.
Amid a plethora of injuries, the Seahawks bring a 2-4 record into their Week 8 meeting with Dallas. The younger Mora's career mark is 28-26.
As for his old man, well, Jim Earnest Mora, is perhaps the most entertaining head coach in the history of the NFL, if not sports in general. His postgame press conferences should have their own website, with his legendary "Playoffs?!" rant having recently hit the two-million barrier on YouTube.
Sadly, the commercials and rants have taken away from Mora's 125 career wins, including six double-digit campaigns with the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts. Only 22 coaches in league history have won more games, although Mora's 0-6 record in the postseason is often held against his impressive overall legacy. Of the 54 winningest coaches in NFL history, Mora is the only one without a playoff victory. Coincidentally, 55th on the list is Wade Phillips, who also doesn't have a postseason win.

Dick and Mike Nolan

Dick and Mike Nolan: Tom Landry brought Dick Nolan to the Cowboys in 1962 as a player/assistant coach, and after one season on the field, Nolan decided to move into the coaching ranks full-time. After five seasons as Landry's defensive backs coach (Landry served as his own offensive and defensive coordinator), Nolan was named the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers at the age of 36 in 1968. After initial success, a 38-27-5 record and three playoff appearances through five years, three straight losing seasons led to his dismissal. He also spent three campaigns with the New Orleans Saints from 1978-80, where he became the first coach in franchise history to reach six, seven and eight wins in a single-season. His final career record was 69-82-5.
Dick Nolan returned to the Cowboys as an assistant thereafter, and remained with the club through 1990. He passed away in 2007.
His son, Mike, also coached the 49ers, from 2005-08, and is currently the defensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos. His career record as a head coach is 18-37, although he could have another shot at just 50 years old, especially with the incredible success of the Broncos defense this season.
In 2006, as a tribute to his father, who like Landry always wore a suit on the sidelines, Mike Nolan convinced the NFL to break protocol and allow him to wear a suit for two games.

Buddy and Rex Ryan

Buddy and Rex Ryan: Earlier this year, in January, Rex Ryan became the fifth and most recent son of a former NFL coach to be handed the reins himself via the New York Jets. The 46-year-old Ryan had been the longtime defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens.
Of course, his father is a familiar name to Cowboys fans, former Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals head coach Buddy Ryan.
Ryan is also known as the architect of the famed "46" defense that anchored the Chicago Bears to one of the most dominant seasons in league history, which culminated in a 46-10 defeat of the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX.
"I know my dad is known as one of the best defensive coaches in the history of this league," Rex Ryan said at the time of his hiring. "I want to be a better head coach than my father."
Buddy Ryan's career record was 55-55-1. A chip off the old block, Rex Ryan was 3-3 through Week 7.

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