The Los Angeles Chargers formally introduced Anthony Lynn as their next head coach, and his press conference was all sorts of entertaining. He accidentally referred to them as the “San Diego” Chargers, he swore, and we event got a cool Bill Walsh story out of it.
Lynn spent two seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, appearing in six games with the team in 1995 and all 16 in 1996. He was a running back who would later spend three seasons with the Denver Broncos before retiring and entering the coaching ranks as a Broncos special teams assistant.
However, it was during his time with the 49ers that he actually first thought about becoming a coach. During his introductory press conference, Lynn talked about a meeting he had with Walsh in 1996. Walsh had left the 49ers in 1988, but returned to the front office in 1996. He called Lynn aside and Lynn initially thought he was going to be cut. However, Walsh told Lynn he wanted to have lunch and discuss something.
“He started talking to me about coaching. He said, ‘I’ve identified you as a coach in the National Football League and I want to tell you about my program for minority coaches.’ And we begin this talk about coaching, and I’d never thought about coaching before. But that’s where the seed was planted, from Coach Walsh. . . . From that moment on, every team meeting I sat in I started taking notes like a coach, I started preparing like a coach.”
Bill Walsh developed a fellowship program to help minority coaches, and it has grown to become a pretty big deal around the NFL. Walsh was on the front lines in the NFL when it came to giving minority coaches opportunities. Hiring them was valuable, but giving them interview practice and developing other tools for success were critical. We regularly hear about the Rooney Rule for interviewing candidates, but the fellowship program has helped to give minority coaches the tools to begin the climb up the coaching ranks.