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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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What's the Kennection? #159
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11 Classic Facts About Converse Chucks
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Converse’s Chuck Taylor sneakers have been around since the early 20th century, but they haven’t changed much—until recently. In 2015, The Chuck II—a new line of Converse that looks much the same as the original shoe but with a little more padding and arch support—hit stores. In honor of the kicks' staying power, here are 11 facts about Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars.  

1. They were originally athletic shoes. 

The Converse All-Star debuted in 1917 as an athletic sneaker. It quickly became the number one shoe for basketball, then a relatively new sport (basketball was invented by James Naismith in 1891, but the NBA wasn't founded until 1946). By the late 1940s, most of the NBA sported Chucks. They remain the best-selling basketball shoes of all time, even though very few people wear them for basketball anymore. (Many teams switched to leather Adidas in the late ‘60s.)

2. Converse previously made rain boots.

The company started in 1908 as a rubber shoe company that produced galoshes.  

3. The All-Star design hasn’t really changed since 1917.

The updated Chuck II is Converse’s first real attempt to update its flagship product since the early 20th century. The company is understandably reticent to shake things up: All-Stars make up the majority of the company’s revenue, and like any classic design, its fans can be die-hards. In the 1990s, when the company tried to introduce All-Stars that were more comfortable and had slightly fewer design inconsistencies, hardcore aficionados rebelled. “They missed the imperfections in the rubber tape that lines the base of the shoe,” according to the Washington Post. The company went back to making a slightly imperfect shoe.

4. Chuck Taylor was a basketball player and trainer ...

Chuck Taylor in 1921. Image Credit: North Carolina State University via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Taylor was a Converse salesman and former professional basketball player who traveled around the country teaching basketball clinics (and selling shoes) starting in the 1920s. His name was added onto an ankle patch on the sneaker in 1932

5. ... And though he sold a lot of Chucks, he wasn't always a great coach.

Taylor is in large part responsible for the shoe’s popularity with athletes (the company rewarded him with an unlimited expense account), but his training advice wasn’t always the best. As former University of North Carolina player Larry Brown told Spin in an oral history of the shoe:

My greatest memory of Chuck Taylor—probably ’61 or ’62—is that he told Coach [Dean] Smith that he’d make us special weighted shoes in Carolina blue. The idea was that we’d wear the weighted shoes in practice, and then during the games, we’d run faster and jump higher. Well, we tried them for one practice and everyone pulled a hamstring.

6. Converse didn’t intend for their shoes to be punk.

“We always thought of ourselves as an athletic shoe company,” John O’Neil, who oversaw Converse’s marketing from 1983 to 1997, told Spin. “We wanted to sell a wholesome shoe.” The company was still touting its shoes as basketball sneakers as late as 2012, and some of its non-Chucks sneakers still have pro endorsers.

7. The company owns a recording studio.

Finally embracing its role in the music scene, the company launched Rubber Tracks, a Brooklyn-based recording studio where bands can record for free, in 2011.

8. Not all the Ramones were fans. 

Chuck Taylors are associated with punk rockers, especially the Ramones, but not everyone in the band wore them. “Dee Dee and I switched over to the Chuck Taylors because they stopped making [the style of] U.S. Keds and Pro-Keds [that we liked],” Marky Ramone told Spin. “Joey never wore them. He needed a lot of arch support and Chuck Taylors are bad for that.”

9. Chucks were initially only high tops. 

In 1962, Converse rolled out its first oxford Chuck Taylor All-Stars. Previously, it had just been a high-top shoe. Four years later, the company would introduce the first colors other than black and white.

10. Rocky ran in them.

In 1976, All-Stars were still considered a viable athletic shoe. If you look closely at the training montage from Rocky, you’ll see the boxer is wearing Chucks. 

11. Wiz Khalifa loves them. 

The rapper named his record label Taylor Ganag Records, in part due to his appreciation for Chuck Taylors. In 2013, he launched a shoe collection with Converse featuring 12 styles. 

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