He may have worked for the enemy, but Dean Pees is certainly one coach that I have long respected. A 45-year coaching career came to an end officially on Monday as the Baltimore Ravens’ defensive coordinator announced that he would be retiring at the age of 68, and for good reason.
That reason is simply to live his life while he still can. As he approaches the age of 70, he wants to enjoy the final chapter of his life as much as he possibly can. One certainly cannot deny that he has gotten his fill of football after nearly a half-century in the game.
“I feel like most of the time in my 45-year career football has probably come first and everything else second”, Pees said during his retirement press conference. “It’s time that changes”. He said that thoughts of retirement truly began to set in a year ago as he watched a close friend pass away.
Clarence Brooks was the Ravens’ defensive line coach from 2005 to 2016. He spent a life in coaching, almost always on the defensive line, including more than two decades of experience doing it at the NFL level.
Brooks planned to retire shortly, as he hit the age of 65, but life had other plans. He was diagnosed with esophageal cancer, and he died on September 17 of last year. “That hit me hard”, Peed acknowledged. “I started thinking about the rest of my life, and how many more years do any of us have? I want to spend those years quality”.
Meanwhile, the Ravens will have to figure out with whom to spend their years to come at defensive coordinator. Since the organization’s founding, they have consistently promoted from within, including Pees, who prior to being promoted to defensive coordinator coached the linebackers for two years.
The most-respected internal candidate would appear to be the man who followed in Pees’ footsteps as linebackers coach, Don Martindale. He has prior experience as a defensive coordinator with the Broncos, where he coached Elvis Dumervil, a player he would later have again in Baltimore. C.J. Mosely has become a premiere linebacker under his watch, and has developed other talents who have found both football and financial success in free agency, such as Pernell McPhee.
One popular name that is being put out there from outside observers is Chuck Pagano, who was recently relieved of his head coaching duties with the Colts. Pagano is something of an insider-outsider, having previously served as the Ravens’ defensive coordinator in 2011, and prior to that, their defensive backs coach for three seasons.
What remains unclear, however, is whether or not he would want to jump right back into another coaching job, especially a demotion, and in a role he has already served. Many in his situation take a year off, and some close to him believe that is what he intends to do.