It takes one to know one, as the saying goes.
Some NFL head coaches have NFL playing experience. There’s a healthy mix of coaches who have played in the league and those who haven’t. Of the 32 head coaches at the beginning of the 2022 season, eight played in at least one regular-season game.
Count Eagles coach Nick Sirianni among those who never played in the NFL. But that clearly hasn’t affected his coaching ability. In just his second year as Eagles boss, Sirianni has the Eagles on the doorstep of a Super Bowl appearance.
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But long before Sirianni ever put pen to paper on a contract to become the Eagles’ coach, he had a lengthy career as an assistant coach. And before that, Sirianni laced up his cleats and played of college ball at a NCAA Division III power.
Here’s what to know about Nick Sirianni’s playing background:
Did Nick Sirianni ever play football?
Yes, Nick Sirianni did play football — just not at the NFL level.
Sirianni was a three-year starter at wide receiver for NCAA Division III Mount Union in Alliance, Ohio. Don’t thumb your nose at Mount Union: the Purple Raiders are 13-time Division III national champions, with their last ‘chip coming in 2017. Sirianni was a part of championship squads in 2000, 2001 and 2002.
Aside from Sirianni, these Mount Union notables have moved on to greener pastures in the NFL and college:
- Pierre Garcon, former NFL wide receiver
- Matt Campbell, Iowa State head coach, former teammate of Sirianni’s
- Jim Ballard, College Football Hall of Fame inductee
- Dom Capers, former NFL head coach
- Jason Candle, Toledo head coach
As a senior in 2003, Sirianni racked up a career-best 998 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns.
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After graduating, he played a year in the Atlantic Indoor Football League as a receiver for the Canton Legends. That was just a stepping stone to the coaching ranks, though. He stopped playing after the team’s inaugural season in 2005.
“It was never going to be a long-term thing,” Sirianni said of his playing prospects (via The Athletic). “There was no future there. I wasn’t going to let it affect my coaching career.”
Nick Sirianni coaching timeline
Sirianni joined the coaching ranks even before he hung up the cleats for good. His first stop was his alma mater, Mount Union, where he was defensive backs coach in 2004 and 2005.
Next, he moved to Indiana (Pa.) University, where he was the wide receivers coach from 2006 to 2008. From there, he made it to the big time.
In 2009, Sirianni was hired by the Chiefs as a quality control coach for Todd Haley’s staff. He would stick in KC until 2012, when some guy named Andy Reid took over as head coach.
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Sirianni found his way to San Diego, and then Los Angeles, holding various titles with the Chargers from 2013-17, including offensive quality control coach, quarterbacks coach and wide receivers coach. In 2018, he was hired by the Colts to be their offensive coordinator. He stuck with Frank Reich until the Eagles hired him to be their head coach in 2020.
The rest, as they say, is history — and Sirianni has another opportunity to etch his name into its books this weekend.