Analysis: It's never a bad idea to have family ties in order to make NFL connections

Wes Phillips, assistant coach Rams, knows all too well how rare and difficult it can be to reach a Super Bowl.

Analysis: It's never a bad idea to have family ties in order to make NFL connections

His grandfather, Bum (the then-Houston Oilers coach), never reached the NFL's most important game. He lost two AFC championship games. Wade, his father, was a coach for 42 seasons. He reached three Super Bowls and lost one.

Wes Phillips stated, "So I'm just thankful for this chance." "Fifteen years of league experience, this is my first chance to play in Super Bowl. It was actually the first time I was part of a team that got past the divisional round.

This Super Bowl is a reminder of the importance of family ties in creating opportunities for men to move up and down in the league, as Brian Flores, former Miami coach, sued the NFL.

Consider:

-- Rams coach Sean McVay. John McVay, his grandfather, was not only the head coach for the New York Giants for three seasons in 1970s but also the general manager for five Super Bowl titles with the San Francisco 49ers between 1980 and 1990.

-- Cincinnati offensive coordinator Brian Callahan. His father Bill was a former head coach for the Washington and Oakland Raiders. When the Raiders lost to Tampa Bay in 2003 Super Bowl, the elder Callahan was their head coach.

-- Bengals coach Zac Taylor. After working as a graduate assistant for Mike Sherman at Texas A&M, Taylor followed his father-in law to the NFL as Sherman was appointed as the Miami Dolphins' offensive coordinator. Taylor continued to be with the Dolphins even after Sherman was fired. Press is his brother and a senior offensive assistant with the Indianapolis Colts.

There are many more.

Former Rams offensive coach Zak Kromer is the father of Aaron Kromer (who was hired recently by Buffalo). Chris Shula, linebackers coach, is the grandchild of Don Shula, a Hall of Fame coach and former Bengals head coach Dave Shula. Phillips and Kromer remained with the Rams despite McVay effectively firing their fathers.

Phillips is the Rams' tight end coach and passing coordinator. Phillips started his NFL career in 2007 as an assistant quality control/offensive coach with his father, who was the head coach of the Dallas Rams. After Wade's firing, Phillips stayed in Dallas for three more seasons.

He was an assistant offensive line coach and special teams assistant before he finally became a tight ends coach with Jason Witten in 2013.

Phillips was a great uncle and grandson of NFL coaches. Think about all the conversations that were had at home while watching a football match together. Timeouts and clock management were hot topics.

Football masterclass.

Phillips stated that it wasn't as if Phillips was at home, drawing things on the greaseboard, but with him.

Other opportunities are available to coaches' sons. Phillips attended team meetings and sat in on them. He was also a ball boy at training camp.

Darrin Simmons was the Bengals' special team coordinator. He got to work for the Browns' training camps for a few years. His connection? His uncle Jerry Simmons, long-time strength coach for the Cleveland Browns, is his connection.

Simmons stated, "During my high school years, we would go to training camp and help him with stuff in weight room."

Callahan grew up in the NFL. His father's influence on Callahan's decision to become a coach was evident when he played at UCLA as a walk-on quarterback and later received a scholarship.

His father called him to express his gratitude for Cincinnati's win over Kansas City in overtime at AFC championship games. This was Cincinnati's first Super Bowl appearance since 1988. His father advised him to concentrate on his job and do his best, rather than worrying about the future.

Callahan stated, "Certainly my father has been a tremendous influence on me personally as well as professionally." He's my mentor in all aspects. You could probably get a lot more, but this is probably the most important.

Being a part of the NFL as a child means that you have the opportunity to meet other coaches. Phillips attributes Dan Reeves to being an important influence. He was his father's boss in Denver, and later Atlanta. Phillips was able to learn from his father and grandfather that Reeves had played for Dallas coach legend Tom Landry.

Phillips spoke fondly of Reeves' attention to detail, recollecting that he died on New Year's Day. He was demanding but also a great, wonderful person. I felt influenced by him as a youngster, how he treated me.

All these coaches learned from their families how difficult it is to win the NFL’s ultimate prize. Phillips said it's been harder the past two decades because Tom Brady has limited the opportunities for those not associated with the seven-time NFL champion.

This makes the moment even more memorable.

Phillips stated, "Really just trying be grateful for the chance."


 

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