Saturday, February 12, 2022

Paul Brown, the Father of Most NFL Head Coaches: Including the Rams and Bengals

As Tom Brady retires, many people talk about GOATs (the Greatest of All Time). As for coaches many, will mention the name of Vince Lombardi as the GOAT for coaches.  While that may be true for winning championships (3 NFL titles plus 2 Super Bowls), there is another coach who I would argue is the greatest at mentoring other coaches.

Paul Brown was the founder of the Cleveland Browns who entered the NFL in 1950 when the league merged with All American Football Conference (AAFC). The Browns won four straight AAFC titles and, when they entered the NFL, they went to six straight NFL championship games winning 3.  Eventually, Brown lost his job in Cleveland in 1963 in a power struggle with new owner Art Modell.  He only faced Lombardi on the field once losing 49-17 to the Packers.  Brown went on to found the Cincinnati Bengals in 1966 in the AFL who will be playing in Super Bowl LVI.  

Just as we can trace our family genealogies, we can trace our professional genealogies based on who our mentors are.  Don Shula and Chuck Noll both played for Brown.  They went on to win six super bowls 
and another 500 plus games between them.  Bill Walsh was his assistant coach in Cincinnati and went on to win another 3 Super Bowls with the 49ers.  Two  of Walsh's three wins were against Brown's Bengals after Brown retired as head coach but still owned the team.  

Walsh went on to mentor Mike Holmgren who went on to mentor Jon Gruden who likewise mentored Sean Payton, the coach of the Rams.  Current Bengals Coach, Zac Taylor was mentored by Sean Payton and was hired by Brown's son in Cincinnati.  Subsequent generations of coaches mentored by Brown's descendants include Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, Tony Dungy, Bill Cowher, Marty Schottenheimer, Andy Reid, and Mike Tomlin.  If you would like to add the total number of Super Bowls won by Brown's mentees it would come to 27.  This includes coaches that Bill Walsh has mentored that are not included in the image below.   Since both coaches for the Rams and Bengals are descendants of Brown, There is guaranteed to be a total of 28 Super Bowls won by his descendants which is exactly half of all Super Bowls played.

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