Perspective Of An Average Steelers Fan: 2021 ‘Burgh’ Influence In NFL Coaching Ranks

The coaching staffs for most NFL teams are set for the upcoming season. Last year, I spotted 40 coaches with some tie to Pittsburgh within the NFL coaching ranks. That was down from over 50 in 2017. Here is last report on Burgher Influence in NFL Coaching Ranks.

Changing of the Burgher Guard

This year, I find 39 coaches again with links to Pittsburgh. The Houston Texans sacked Bill O’Brien but hired David Culley as head coach. Culley served as the Steelers wide receiver coach from 1996-98 so the number of NFL head coaches with Burgher ties remains at five. A long way after peaking at nine in 2017. There are changes as nine people listed last year dropped off the list and three changed teams. Ten others return (i.e., Tom Moore) or are new (i.e., Tee Martin) to the NFL coaching ranks. Here are some notable changes:

Urban Meyer hired Brian Schottenheimer as the passing coordinator and quarterback coach. Bob McAdoo no longer appears on their coaching staff. The Homer City and IUP product has fallen by the wayside after his tumultuous two year run as New York Giants head coach from 2016-17.

Hines Ward moved to Florida Atlantic University after two years as an offensive coach assistant with the New York Jets.

The Dallas Cowboys fired Jim Tomsula as defensive line coach. The Homestead product lasted one year as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers in 2015.

Tom Clements helped Kordell Stewart (2001) and Tommy Maddox (2002) reach Pro Bowls as the Steelers quarterback coach from 2001-2003. He left the Steelers to be the Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator in 2003 just missing the opportunity to be Ben Roethlisberger’s first quarterback coach in the pros. His past two seasons were with the Arizona Cardinals as the passing coordinator and quarterback coach. Clements announced his retirement after 24 years coaching in the NFL.

Tampa Bay Leads the Way

In 2017 the Arizona Cardinals led the way with eight Burgher coaches. Then in 2018, Green Bay led with six coaches, and Arizona and Cincinnati tied at four. 2019 saw the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hired Bruce Arians and their coaching staff had the most Burgher connections at five. In 2020, the Cardinals hired Brentson Bruckner as their defensive line coach and shared the crown with the Buccaneers with five Burgher coaches each.

This year, Tampa Bay lost offensive assistant Antwan Randel El who moved over to the Detroit Lions to coach their wide receivers. However, Tom Moore remains as an offensive consultant who has been behind the scenes with Bruce Arian’s offensive schemes in Arizona and now Tampa Bay. Nick Rapone remains as safety coach. Plus, former Pitt speedster Rodger Kingdom remains as speed and conditioning coach. I missed all three of these guy’s last season. That brings Tampa Bay up to seven Burgher links by far the largest contingent. The Arizona Cardinals and Detroit Lions trail with four apiece.

I do stretch it a little by including some subBurghers who are a generation removed from their Black and Gold roots. I estimate that about 6.5% of all NFL coaches have some Burgher roots. Not bad when you consider that Pittsburgh’s metropolitan population is less than 1% of the national total.

There are several gaps – let me know who I missed in the comments.

The Burgher Coaching Connection List

City Team Name Position Connection
Buffalo Bills Bob Babich LB Coach Burgher (Aliquippa) Pitt coach
Miami Dolphins Danny Crossman Asst Head Coach & Special teams Pitt Player 1987-89
New England Patriots Bill Belichick Head Coach subBurgher (Father from Monessen)
Baltimore Ravens Bobby Engram TE Coach Penn State player/Pitt Coach
Baltimore Ravens Tee Martin WR Coach Steelers player 2000-01
Baltimore Ravens Joe D’Alessandris OL Coach Burgher (Aliquippa) Pitt OL coach 96
Cleveland Browns Alex Van Pelt Offense Coordinator Burgher Pitt QB 1989-92
Houston Texans David Culley Head Coach Steelers WR Coach 1996-98
Indianapolis Colts Raymond Ventrone Special teams Burgher (Chartiers Valley)
Indianapolis Colts Scottie Montgomery RB Coach Steelers WR coach 2010-12
Indianapolis Colts Scott Milanovich QB Coach Burgher (Butler)
Jacksonville Jaguars Brian Schottenheimer Pass Coord/QB Coach subBurgher – son of Burgher Marty Schottenheimer
Tennessee Titans Mike Vrabel Head Coach Steelers player 1997-2000
Tennessee Titans Jim Haslett ILB Coach Steelers D Coordinator 1997-99
Denver Broncos Mike Munchak OL Coach Steelers OL Coach 2014-18
Los Angeles Chargers Shaun Sarrett Asst OL Coach Steelers coach 2012-20 last as OL coach
Las Vegas Raiders Kirby Wilson RB Coach Steelers RB Coach 2007-13
Dallas Cowboys Mike McCarthy Head Coach Burgher Pitt WR coach 92
Dallas Cowboys Joe Philbin OL Coach Washington & Jefferson player
New York Giants Sean Spencer DL Coach Clarion player
New York Giants Amos Jones Special Projects/situations Steelers Asst & Special teams coord 2007-12
Washington Redskins Jim Hostler Sr Offense Asst Burgher, IUP coach 1992-99
Washington Redskins Jeff Zgonina Asst DL coach Steelers player 1993-94
Chicago Bears Deshea Townsend DB Coach Steeler player 1998-2009
Detroit Lions Duce Staley Asst HC & RB Coach Steeler player 2004-06
Detroit Lions Antwan Randel El WR Coach Steelers WR 2002-05, 2010
Detroit Lions Hank Fraley OL Coach Robert Morris player Steelers UDFA 2000
Detroit Lions Dom Capers Sr Def Asst Steelers DC 1992-94
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Bruce Arians Head Coach Steelers WR/OC 2004-11
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Byron Leftwich Offense Coordinator Steelers player 2010-12
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tom Moore Offense Consultant Steelers WR Coach & OC 1977-1989
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Larry Foote OLB Coach Steelers LB 2002-08 & 10-13
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Cody Grimm D/ST Asst coach subBurgher son of Russ Grimm
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Nick Rapone Safeties Coach Burgher (New Castle) Pitt DC 1989-92
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Roger Kingdom Speed & Conditioning Pitt Track 1981-84
Arizona Cardinals James Saxon RB Coach Steelers RB coach 2014-18
Arizona Cardinals Sean Kugler OL Coach Steelers OL Coach 2010-12
Arizona Cardinals Brentson Buckner DL Coach Steelers player 1994-96 intern coach 2010-12
Arizona Cardinals Buddy Morris Strength & Condition Pitt strength coach 1980-89, 97-01, Burgher


Song Selection

I always like to include some music. Steelers Depot commenter Dave suggested I check out the one-man band performance of Shakey Graves. He’s still active but here is a piece from a few years ago that is apt about careers of many NFL coaches: Built to Roam.

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