Teacher Appreciation Week: NFL Edition

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"Socrates taught Plato, Plato taught Aristotle, Aristotle taught Alexander the Great"¦" That's how Mary kicked off mental_floss Teacher Appreciation Week.

A logical follow-up post would be one that extended this chain. A less logical one would jump ahead about 2300 years and trace the lineage of famous NFL teachers. Since I just read an excellent piece by Stephen Edelson on the latter, let's turn down that road.

You can trace many of today's successful teachers back to Cleveland Browns legend Paul Brown. After joining the NFL in 1950, Cleveland appeared in six straight NFL title games, winning three. The father of modern football was also a stubborn S.O.B. After being criticized for passing too much in a win against the Philadelphia Eagles, Brown refused to throw the ball once in their next meeting (another win), the only time that's ever happened since the advent of the forward pass. Brown went on to coach the expansion Cincinnati Bengals, where he begat Bill Walsh.

Bill Walsh spent seven seasons under Brown, and would eventually take over the lowly San Francisco 49ers. With Joe Montana, Walsh would win three Super Bowls, including two over his former team in Cincy. He retired after the 1988-89 season. Here's where the coaching tree branches out.

Walsh's successor in San Francisco, his defensive coordinator George Seifert, won the Super Bowl his first season. Mike Holmgren, the quarterbacks coach under Walsh and offensive coordinator under Seifert, went to two Super Bowls as coach of the Green Bay packers (winning one), and brought the Seattle Seahawks to Super Bowl XL last year. Seifert also begat Mike Shanahan, who won two titles with Denver, and Pete Carroll, who didn't find success with the Jets or Patriots, but has dominated college football, winning two national championships at USC.

Back to Holmgren -- it seems like his entire Packers staff went on to coach their own teams. His branch is a big one: Andy Reid, Jon Gruden, Ray Rhodes, Marty Mornhinweg, Mike Sherman, Steve Mariucci, and Dick Jauron.

Minnesota coach Brad Childress worked under Reid in Philly; Houston's Gary Kubiak comes from Shanahan's Broncos. And going back directly to Walsh, his assistant Dennis Green (Minnesota, then Arizona) begat Brian Billick (Baltimore).

That's a lot of mentoring. I could go into the Bill Parcells tree, or the Marty Schottenheimer one. But I'll save those for next Teacher Appreciation Week. Class dismissed.

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October 19, 2006 - 7:03am
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