As the NFL begins another flag-waving, player-kneeling, Nike-infested, anthem-ambivalent, Kaepernick-free season, it is important to remember that – on the sideline – in the immortal words of Sly & the Family Stone, it’s a family affair.
Among myriad changes in the NFL, one of the constants is the flesh-and-blood-friendly coaching carousel.
Indeed, the apple never falls from the coaching tree in the NFL.
Or, in case you forgot, the ‘N’ in NFL stands for Nepotism.
Of course, when you run a small business, like a mom-and-pop liquor store or the U.S. government, it is common to hire friends and family. And each NFL franchise essentially is a small business, albeit valued at over $1 billion with a couple hundred employees.
There are three basic ways to make it to the NFL as an assistant coach:
1. Have your dad hire you.
2. Have your dad make a phone call for you to one of his coaching colleagues.
Uh, merit is largely out of fashion.
A quick example would be Scott Turner, son of longtime NFL coach Norv Turner.
In 2013, Scott got his second NFL job as wide receivers coach with the Cleveland Browns, where his dad was offensive coordinator.
In 2014, Scott got his next NFL job as quarterbacks coach with the Minnesota Vikings, where his dad was offensive coordinator.
In 2018, Scott got his current job as quarterbacks coach with the Carolina Panthers, where his dad is offensive coordinator.
I think most of us recognize a pattern here.
Incidentally, Scott’s uncle – and Norv’s brother – is Ron Turner, who had two stints as offensive coordinator with the Chicago Bears and was head coach at three colleges.
Ron would’ve kept hiring Scott if Norv hadn’t.
(Column Intermission I: Nike’s new ad campaign is, “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.” Did Nike suddenly develop a social conscience? No. Nike does believe in something – athletic shoe sales and the business of making as much money as possible off them.)
(Column Intermission II: Nike’s new front man is Colin Kaepernick, for whom I have a question or two: I know you are fighting against social injustice, but shouldn’t that include Nike’s Asian factory employees working for pennies under awful labor conditions, or the disadvantaged youth who can’t afford the shoes and literally used to shoot each other over Air Jordans?)
There are dozens of family connections in NFL coaching ranks; due to space limitations, I will only list a handful:
— Browns linebackers coach Blake Williams is son of Browns defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.
— Bengals linebackers coach Marcus Lewis is son of Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis.
— Texans assistant secondary coach D’Anton Lynch is son of Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn.
— Bills defensive backs coach Bobby Babich, Jr. is son of Bills linebackers coach Bob Babich.
— R*dsk*ns tight ends coach Wes Phillips is son of Chargers defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, who is son of Bum Phillips.
— Broncos quarterbacks coach Klint Kubiak and scout Klein Kubiak are sons of former Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak.
— Seahawks assistant offensive line coach Brennan Carroll and wide receivers coach Nate Carroll are sons of Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll.
— Cardinals offensive assistant Cameron Turner – yes, there is yet another Turner – is son of the aforementioned Ron Turner.
On a positive note – since Couch Slouch supports spousal nepotism – there is Dana Smith, who got hired in 2005 by the Jaguars and eventually became assistant to the general manager, then in 2006 married Jason DesJarlais, who became a Jaguars scout in 2007.
To this day, they remain with the Jaguars and with each other, an improbable double feat.
Ask The Slouch
Q. Was Serena Williams a victim of sexism or just a spoiled brat in her contretemps with the chair umpire at the U.S. Open? (Gerald Jones; Atlanta)
A. Probably a little of both. I certainly didn’t expect the words, “I have a daughter,” to come out of her mouth during the argument.
Q. Brett Favre or Brett Kavanaugh? (Kelly Conner; San Antonio)
A. A good judge should have good judgment. Kavanaugh incurred tens of thousands of dollars of credit card debt buying Washington Nationals season tickets; does this show good judgment?
Q. If Nick Saban invited you to Thanksgiving dinner, what would you two discuss? (David Stein; West Palm Beach, Fla.)
A. He would not invite me and I would not accept, but if we ran into each other on the street, I’m sure we would chat about unbiased gender data and environmental sustainability.
Q. Is it true that former Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter is attempting to become the official sponsor of NFL owners with his white pizza? (Terry Golden; Vienna, Va.)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.
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