clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Chip Kelly ranked not quite worst among NFL head coach playing careers

New, comments

Every time I think I’ve found the ultimate offseason piece, someone comes up with something better. The latest comes courtesy of ESPN’s Kevin Seifert. He ranked out all 32 NFL head coaches based on their football playing career. Every NFL head coach played organized football at some level, with careers ranging from just high school to a Pro Bowl appearance. The article looks at their career, and includes a brief fact we might not have known.

San Francisco 49ers head coach Chip Kelly had a limited playing career, that ended as a quarterback and defensive back for the University of New Hampshire. However, that was good enough to avoid last place. Seifert ranked Kelly No. 30. The two below him were New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo and Miami Dolphins head coach Adam Gase. They both saw their playing careers end when they finished high school.

Here’s what Seifert had to say about Kelly:

Much has been made of Kelly's incomplete biography, but the accompanying photo confirms Kelly was a part of the early 1980s teams at the University of New Hampshire. He did not play much, or well, during his time there. Mike Murphy, the New Hampshire associate athletic director for communications, said the school has "no discernible stats" for Kelly's playing career. "Let's just say he was a better coach than a player," Murphy said via email.

Something you might not know: That Chip Kelly was on a college football team.

Kelly’s staff includes very little NFL playing experience. Tom Rathman is the obvious one, but inside linebackers coach Joe Bowden spent nine years in the NFL. Beyond that, there are only bits and pieces of careers. Assistant defensive line coach Vince Oghobaase and assistant special teams coach Michael Clay each spent part of one season in the NFL.

The most interesting assistant might be quarterbacks coach Ryan Day. He played quarterback and defensive back at New Hampshire when Chip Kelly was serving as offensive coordinator. After graduating, Day start his coaching career as New Hampshire’s tight ends coach. He’s not following exactly the same path as Chip Kelly, but it’s interesting to see him go through college and come out of it in similar fashion.

Here’s how the top five of the ranking finished up:

1. Jack Del Rio
2. Todd Bowles (played for 49ers in 1991)
3. Ron Rivera
4. Mike Mularkey
5. Jeff Fisher (played with Ronnie Lott at USC)

Matt Barrows happened to come across this old photo of Kelly from his playing downs. He is in the middle of the second row wearing No. 9.