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The Non-Football Jobs of 12 Coaching Legends

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Most coaches spend their entire lives coaching in some capacity, but a few of the all-time greats have gotten some interesting paychecks outside of football. Take a look at some other jobs coaches have held.

1. Tom Landry
The dapper former Dallas Cowboys coach saw some serious action in the Army Air Forces during World War II. As a second lieutenant, Landry served as the copilot of a B-17 Flying Fortress in Europe and completed 30 combat missions. On one mission Landry's plane ran out of fuel, and the future Hall of Famer had to make a crash landing in Belgium.


2. George Halas
The man who owned the Chicago Bears and coached the squad from 1922 to 1967 was quite an athlete in his own right. He was the MVP of the 1919 Rose Bowl while playing for a team representing the Great Lakes Naval Training Station; the big win earned everyone on the team discharges from the military. After getting out of the armed forces, Halas picked up baseball and bounced around the minors for a bit before eventually getting called up to play for the New York Yankees.

A hip injury cut his big-league career short after just 12 games, but baseball probably didn't lose a future star. Sure, it's a small sample, but Halas only squeaked out two singles in 22 at-bats during his MLB career, good for a less-than-sterling .182 OPS.

3. Buddy Ryan

The former NFL head coach and brilliant defensive coordinator served in the Army during the Korean War before getting into coaching. He rose to the rank of Master Sergeant. How did the service affect the coach? His son Rex, the current head coach of the New York Jets, once said of his father, "I don't pretend to be as tough as he is. I didn't grow up in the same fashion. He was a master sergeant in the Korean War when he was 18 years old."

holmgren-favre-si4. Mike Holmgren
After playing quarterback at USC, Holmgren went on to become a history teacher/football coach at his alma mater, San Francisco's Lincoln High School. The Big Show spent nine years teaching high school before he took a college coaching job at San Francisco State in 1981.


5. Vince Lombardi
Football almost didn't get one of its legendary coaches. When Lombardi was 15 he enrolled at Cathedral College of the Immaculate Conception; if he had finished the six-year program, he would have become a Catholic priest. Lombardi eventually left the school, though, and after earning his spot in college football history on Fordham's "Seven Blocks of Granite" offensive line, he got a gig teaching Latin, chemistry, and physics at St. Cecilia, a Catholic school in New Jersey.

6. Bob Stoops
Oklahoma's head coach became a graduate assistant at Iowa after finishing his playing career as a four-year starter for the Hawkeyes. While he was learning to work the sidelines, Stoops had another gig, too: he was a volunteer firefighter.

7. Brian Billick
The former Baltimore Ravens head coach has spent most of his life in football, but he did find a way to earn a little TV face time in 1977 when he was a contestant on the Match Game.

holtz-si8. Lou Holtz
When Holtz was a struggling young coach he got a job selling cemetery plots to pick up a little money on the side—despite his wife's warnings that he couldn't sell anything. Holtz later joked, "She was wrong. By the end of the summer, I'd sold our stereo, our car, and our television."


9. Pete Carroll
The current coach of the Seattle Seahawks has only had one non-football job in his life: after failing to catch on with any pro teams after college, he took a job selling wood products for CertainTeed, a building materials manufacturer. Carroll later told the Orange County Register, "It didn't last long. It wasn't because my heart wasn't in it. It was because I botched it up so bad that I didn't have any future in it."

10. Marv Levy
The hard-luck coach who lost four Super Bowls with the Buffalo Bills played college football at Iowa's Coe College, but he didn't immediately head into the coaching world. Instead, he earned a masters in English from Harvard before working his way up the coaching ladder.

11. Paul Brown
The offensive genius and longtime coach of the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns was a sharp guy, too. Brown actually won a Rhodes Scholarship in 1930 but decided to stay home and take a job as a teacher and coach at a prep school to support his wife.

12. Marty Schottenheimer
After a six-year career as a linebacker for the Bills, Patriots, and Colts, Schottenheimer retired from football in 1971 and switched to a very different industry: real estate. The swap didn't last long, though, as he got back into football in 1974 as the linebackers coach for the World Football League's Portland Storm.

This article originally appeared in 2009.

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

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Nick Briggs/Comic Relief
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What Happened to Jamie and Aurelia From Love Actually?
May 26, 2017
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Nick Briggs/Comic Relief

Fans of the romantic-comedy Love Actually recently got a bonus reunion in the form of Red Nose Day Actually, a short charity special that gave audiences a peek at where their favorite characters ended up almost 15 years later.

One of the most improbable pairings from the original film was between Jamie (Colin Firth) and Aurelia (Lúcia Moniz), who fell in love despite almost no shared vocabulary. Jamie is English, and Aurelia is Portuguese, and they know just enough of each other’s native tongues for Jamie to propose and Aurelia to accept.

A decade and a half on, they have both improved their knowledge of each other’s languages—if not perfectly, in Jamie’s case. But apparently, their love is much stronger than his grasp on Portuguese grammar, because they’ve got three bilingual kids and another on the way. (And still enjoy having important romantic moments in the car.)

In 2015, Love Actually script editor Emma Freud revealed via Twitter what happened between Karen and Harry (Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman, who passed away last year). Most of the other couples get happy endings in the short—even if Hugh Grant's character hasn't gotten any better at dancing.

[h/t TV Guide]

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