Commentary

Former NFL coaches: Where are they now?

Many of Sam Wyche's contemporaries have also found interesting things to do since leaving the game, writes William Bendetson.

Originally Published: October 18, 2007
By William Bendetson | ESPN.com

What other notable former NFL coaches are doing today:

Dan Reeves


NFL coaching career: Denver Broncos 1981-1992, New York Giants, 1993-1996. Atlanta Falcons 1997-2003.

Dan Reeves

Reeves

Coaches corner: Reeves led the Broncos to three Super Bowl appearances and failed to win each time. Reeves was the Broncos' coach in the AFC Championship Game on January 11, 1987, when quarterback John Elway orchestrated a game-tying 98-yard touchdown drive. The Broncos won in overtime.

In the 1998 season, Reeves led the Falcons to their only Super Bowl appearance in franchise history. He has a 201-174-2 NFL coaching record -- one of only seven coaches in NFL history with 200 wins.

Fast forward: Reeves, 63, lives in Atlanta and misses the preparation that comes with coaching. However, he has not distanced himself too much from the NFL. He serves as an analyst on NFL games for Westwood One radio, and as a motivational speaker.

Quote/unquote: "Being a head coach for 23 years in the NFL and learning under Tom Landry for 16 years, I feel like I have learned an awful lot about motivation and when I give speeches, people like to hear that stuff," Reeves said.

Chuck Noll


NFL coaching career: Pittsburgh Steelers 1969-1991.

Chuck Noll

Noll

Coaches corner: Noll is the only coach in NFL history to win four Super Bowls. In his 23 years with the Steelers, Noll had a 209-156-1 record. He coached Hall of Famers Terry Bradshaw, Lynn Swann, John Stallworth and Franco Harris. Noll was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993 and is fifth on the all-time wins list.

Fast forward: Noll, 75, has a bad back and walks with a cane. He also has stenosis, a painful condition that causes the spinal nerve roots to compress in the lower back. Noll was honored before the Steelers' last home game, against the Seattle Seahawks.

He was unable to attend a field-naming ceremony this summer in his honor at Steelers training camp in Latrobe, Pa. Before his back troubles, Noll played in a lot of celebrity golf tournaments. He and Marianne remain active donors to Pittsburgh Vision Services, a nonprofit agency that assists people who are blind or have vision impairments.

Quote/unquote: "Life has really slowed down for us the past year," said Noll's wife, Marianne. "We don't get out much."

Jim Fassel


NFL coaching career: New York Giants 1997-2003.

Jim Fassel

Fassel

Coaches corner: Fassel led the Giants to their first Super Bowl appearance in 10 years when they lost to the Baltimore Ravens on January 28, 2001. The Giants won two division titles and made three trips to the playoffs in Fassel's seven seasons with the Giants.

In a 2002 wild-card playoff game, the Giants blew a 24-point third-quarter lead to the San Francisco 49ers and ended up losing 39-38. Many blamed the loss on Fassel, who was fired after posting a 4-12 record in 2003. Fassel's NFL coaching record is 58-53-1.

Fast forward: Fassel, 58, lives in Scottsdale, Ariz., and helps run a commercial real estate business with his nephew. He also is a radio analyst for Westwood One and contributes once a week to ESPN "First Take." He wants to coach again and is waiting for a good opportunity.

Quote/unquote: "My nephew is always glad that I am in real estate with him," Fassel said. "He is kind of laid back and sometimes I have to get on the contractors. As a coach, you don't deal in a world of we might get something done. Instead, you like to say we will get this done today. I try to bring that attitude to real estate."

Bobby Ross


NFL coaching career: San Diego Chargers 1992-1996, Detroit Lions 1997-2000.

Bobby Ross

Ross

Coaches corner: Ross led the Chargers to their only Super Bowl, a 49-26 loss to the 49ers in Super Bowl XXIX. That Super Bowl was perhaps best remembered for how quickly it was over -- the 49ers scored two touchdowns in the first five minutes. Ross was less successful in his tenure with the Lions, finishing with a 27-32 record.

Fast forward: Ross was also the head coach at Army for three seasons (2004-2006), compiling a 9-25 overall record. The 70-year-old lives in Lexington Va., on a three-acre lot overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains. He loves spending time outdoors, cutting his grass and working on his yard.

Ross walks for 1.5 miles, runs on the treadmill for 1.5 miles and does eight or nine weightlifting exercises almost every day. In the fall, Ross travels the country attending a high school, college or pro football game each weekend -- usually with one of his 16 grandchildren. His 17th is on the way.

Quote/unquote: "I had grown kind of tired of coaching -- both physically and mentally," Ross said. "I left Army because I felt I was not able to give the energy that was needed to coach a football team." (Ross coached at Army from 2004-06.)

Tom Flores


NFL coaching career: Oakland Raiders 1979-1987, Seattle Seahawks 1992-1994.

Tom Flores

Flores

Coaches corner: Flores, who is Hispanic, was the first minority coach to win a Super Bowl. He won two Super Bowls with the Raiders (XV and XVIII). In 1988, he became Raiders general manager. A year later, he became president and general manager of the Seattle Seahawks and was the first minority NFL executive. He named himself coach of the Seahawks in 1992 and was fired as president and coach two years later.

Fast forward: Flores, 70, lives in Indian Wells, Calif., on a golf course. Flores has established an educational foundation, entering its 20th year, to help pay for projects in his school district. Flores is in his 11th season as a color analyst on the Raiders' radio network. He loves to cook, and his favorite dish is cioppino, an Italian seafood stew.

Quote/unquote: "It has been painful for me to watch," said Flores, referring to the Raiders' struggles the past few seasons. "It is frustrating and annoying."

Sam Rutigliano


NFL coaching career: Cleveland Browns 1978-1984

Sam Rutigliano

Rutigliano

Coaches corner: Rutigliano was the coach of the famed "Kardiac Kids" in Cleveland. He led the Browns to a division title in 1980, and was named NFL Coach of the Year that same season. He was fired in 1984 after starting the season 1-7.

Fast forward: Rutigliano also coached in NFL Europe for seven seasons from 2000-06. He coached four years in Spain, two years in Germany and one year in Scotland. Rutigliano, 76, still lives in Cleveland and is an analyst on local television. His favorite activity is spending time with his children and grandchildren.

Quote/unquote: "From a pure development standpoint, I think NFL Europe was great," Rutigliano said. "It kept a lot of guys in the game who might have gone on to other careers. It was also fun to live and travel around Europe for 12 weeks a year."

Chuck Knox


NFL coaching career: Los Angeles Rams 1973-1977, 1992-1994, Buffalo Bills 1978-1982, Seattle Seahawks 1983-1991.

Chuck Knox

Knox

Coaches corner: Knox led the Seahawks to their first playoff appearance, in the 1983 season, falling one game short of the Super Bowl. He led Seattle to its first division title in 1984. Knox won five straight NFC West titles with the Rams in the 1970s and won a division title with Buffalo in 1980. He was nicknamed "Ground Chuck" because he loved to run the football.

Fast forward: Knox, 75, lives in La Quinta, Calif., a Southern California desert town. He has a bad back and has been on and off painkillers. Even though Knox was an NFL head coach for 22 years, he almost gave up coaching to become a history professor. Knox loved history when he attended Juniata College, a small liberal arts college in Huntingdon, Pa. In 2005, Knox donated $1 million to the Juniata history department.

Quote/unquote: "It was great seeing everybody. [Rams owner] Georgia Frontiere did a first-class job," said Knox, referring to a recent two-day reunion among former Rams players at the Los Angeles Coliseum. Former Rams tight end Bob Klein and defensive tackle Merlin Olsen were also in attendance.

Dick MacPherson


NFL coaching career: New England Patriots 1991-1992.

Dick MacPherson

MacPherson

Coaches corner: Today, the Patriots are considered a model franchise, but that was not always the case. When MacPherson coached New England, many thought the Pats were headed to St. Louis. Most Patriots home games were not on local television, because the Pats failed to sell out their stadium. MacPherson finished with an 8-24 record in the NFL.

Fast forward: MacPherson, who turns 77 next week, spends most of the fall with the Syracuse football team, a team he coached successfully for 10 years (1981-1990).

He calls himself a bona fide cheerleader as he attends all the practices and games but does not give any coaching advice. MacPherson spends the winter in Florida and the summer in Maine.

Quote/unquote: "They probably made the right decision to fire me and bring in a guy like Bill Parcells," MacPherson said. "They needed a guy like that."

Wayne Fontes


NFL coaching career: Detroit Lions 1988-1996.

Wayne Fontes

Fontes

Coaches corner: Fontes was the last Lions coach to win a playoff game. The Lions defeated the Dallas Cowboys 38-6 in a divisional playoff game on January 5, 1992. They lost to the Washington Redskins in the NFC Championship Game the following week, 41-10. The Redskins went on to win the Super Bowl.

Fast forward: Fontes, 68, lives in Tarpon Springs, Fla., where he plays a lot of golf. Fontes watches the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and has become friends with coach Jon Gruden. He also watches the Lions at a local bar. If neither team is on TV, Fontes prefers to watch an old John Wayne movie.

Quote/unquote: "As great of a runner as Barry Sanders was, he was even a better person," Fontes said. "He did not care about numbers. I remember his rookie year. [The Lions] were winning big in our final regular-season game and Barry needed only 4 yards to lead the league in rushing and he said to me early in the fourth quarter, 'Are we going to win the game?' Winning was all that mattered to him."

Marv Levy


NFL coaching career: Kansas City Chiefs 1978-1982, Buffalo Bills 1986-1997

Marv Levy

Levy

Coaches corner: Levy coached the Bills to four Super Bowl appearances in four years during the 1990s. When former Bills RB Thurman Thomas was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the summer, Levy was the presenter. He was also the presenter for Bills QB Jim Kelly in 2002. Levy became a member of the Hall of Fame in 2001.

Fast forward: Levy, 82, still lives in Buffalo and is the Bills' general manager. He is thankful, though, that he does not handle contract negotiations. Levy still maintains an active workout regimen and studies nutrition. He spends a couple of hours a day working out. Levy lives by the motto for every hour you work out, you add two hours to your life.

Quote/unquote: "The transition [from coach to GM] has been greater than I thought," Levy said. "As a coach on game day, you make 200 decisions and have 30 seconds to make each of them. As a general manager, you sit up in the press box and look wise."

William Bendetson covers pro football for ESPN.com.