Two weeks ago, 19 year veteran point guard Jason Kidd announced his retirement as a NBA player, and just over a week later Kidd signed a head coaching contract with the Brooklyn Nets.
Going directly from player to head coach, with no previous coaching experience, is something that only few players have ever done in professional sports. Even the players who jump to coaches in the NBA usually have some time as a front office executive (Larry Bird) or TV analyst (Mark Jackson) under their belt before making the jump. As far back as we can remember, it's a feat that has never happened in major college football.
The only player that comes to mind on the gridiron is former Kentucky Christian (NAIA) head coach Mike Furrey, who joined the Marshall staff during the off season to coach the receivers. Furrey signed with the Washington Redskins in June of 2010, and was named head coach at Kentucky Christian a few months later in December. We're sure there are a few more examples at the small college level out there, but Furrey's seems to be the most recent.
That got us to thinking if there were any current players capable of making the jump from playing in the NFL to the head coaching ranks. For the sake of fun and entertainment, let's keep it open ended and say landing a head coaching job at the major college or professional level.
Since being a head coach is about so much more than knowledge of the game and X's and O's, we also took into account their relationship with the media, their overall public profile (willingness to be in advertisements, etc.) and how they'd handle being confined to a headset on the sideline. While those are only a few criteria that go into a quality head coach, it's a solid start for the sake of this article.
Here's our list of the guys we would be the least surprised to see make a jump directly from playing to a head coaching gig, starting with two individuals that really wouldn't surprise even the most casual fans. Reminder: this is strictly for entertainment purposes.
1. Peyton Manning - C'mon now, this one is a no-brainer. Peyton has an excellent relationship with the media, is very visible to the public with his numerous endorsement deals, and commands the field as one of the most elite quarterbacks to ever play the game. Peyton has seen every type of defensive front and coverage combination known to mankind. We do feel it's worth pointing out that Manning infamously said that he was 0-10 during his time out of football as an "assistant".
2. Tom Brady - Brady has worked his way from overlooked draft prospect to the pinnacle of quarterbacks with eight Pro Bowls, three Super Bowl rings, two MVP's, and one super model wife. He was prepared as you can be when he stepped into the starting role and has since solidified himself as one of the best to ever play the position and his command of the field and knowledge of different defenses and coverages is right up there next to Peyton's.
3. London Fletcher - Fletcher has been around the game for a long time, and worked his way into a star role after competing at the D-III level in college (John Carroll University - OH). He's seen every NFL fad of the past decade and a half from the proliferation of the spread, to the "wildcat", to the zone read, so nothing's going to surprise him. While he earned high marks from our staff in all defensive categories you look for in a potential head coach, we did have to deduct some points because after 15 years in the league, there's no telling what might happen to a running back sprinting up Fletcher's sideline.
If there's anyone you felt we missed, feel free to include your nomination in the comments below.