Dress For Success
Sep 1, 2017
by Kevin Hulett
What does it take to be a great NFL head coach? Dedication? Natural-born leadership? What sets them apart? One word. Swag. What I’ve discovered about the greatest NFL coaches is that the secret to their success lies in the clothes they wear on game days. Let’s take a look at some of the most recent great NFL head coaches so you can see what I mean.
Let’s take a look at some of the most recent great NFL head coaches so you can see what I mean.
Andy Reid (18 years, 1999-Present) – Record: 173-114-1 (.602 W%)
You can’t think of recent great coaches without thinking of Andy Reid. From collegiate O-line coach to Packers assistant coach to Eagles head coach, and now Chiefs head coach, he has had a long and successful career. He boasts 1 NFC Championship, 1 AP Coach of the Year Award, and the most wins of any Eagles head coach (130).
The real question is, however, what’s the secret to his success? It’s all in the swag! On the sideline, you will see Reid dawning an oversized pullover, dark slacks, a standard hat, and a thick blondish-grey mustache. His style says, “I’m comfortable, it doesn’t matter if I’m on national television.” He could have any article of coach’s gear from the plethora of choices, but Reid always opts for the trash bag-style pullover and baggy pants.
Mike Tomlin (10 years, 2007-Present) – Record: 103-57-0 (.644 W%)
Mike Tomlin saw success right out of the gate as an NFL head coach. His path started as an assistant coach at Arkansas State, then he was as an assistant coach for the Buccaneers and Vikings before landing where he is currently, the head coach of the Steelers. Super Bowl Champion, 2x AFC Champion, and 2008 Motorola NFL Coach of the Year, Tomlin has quite the resume.
He’s also one of the most gangster coaches in the NFL. This is one bad man. On the sideline, you’ll typically see Tomlin sporting a hat, athletic team jacket, sweat pants, and walking with a sway. You can definitely tell that Tomlin and Allen Iverson grew up in the same area. Tomlin’s style says, “If you walk up on me, you’re gonna get popped.” He definitely makes opposing players think twice before making a catch on his sideline.
Mike McCarthy (11 years, 2006-Present) – Record: 114-61-1 (.651 W%)
Another current, ultra-successful head coach is Mike McCarthy. From assistant coach at Pitt, to assistant coach for the Chiefs, Packers, Saints, and 49ers, and finally head coach of the Packers, McCarthy has bounced around but has finally cemented himself in Green Bay. His resume includes 6 Division Championships and 1 Super Bowl Championship, and his Packers are a threat every year.
But more importantly, what does the man wear? I could just say, “See Andy Reid,” because McCarthy’s style is strikingly similar to that of the Chiefs’ head coach. Wearing a hat, team pullover, and dark slacks, the only thing McCarthy is missing from the Reid toolbox is the mustache. But hey, not everyone is that blessed. The Packers’ coach is a bit more put together looking, however, as his clothes are actually the right size for him, not a size too big, like Reid’s.
Tony Dungy (13 years, 1996-2008) – Record: 139-69-0 (.668 W%)
When you think of Peyton Manning’s great career, you can’t help but think of the great coach that was alongside him, Tony Dungy. He started off as an assistant coach for the Steelers, Chiefs, and Vikings before becoming the head coach for the Buccaneers and then the Colts. His accolades include 2 Super Bowl Championships, being a member of the Indianapolis Colts Ring of Honor, and being the first African American head coach to win the Super Bowl.
What will Dungy be known the most for? That darn mock turtle neck, of course. While coaching, Dungy typically sports a hat, team sweater vest, white mock turtle neck underneath, and khakis. His style says, “Come here, grandson, and I’ll give you a peppermint.” But you can’t argue with the results; they’re minty fresh.
Bill Belichick (22 years, 1991-Present) – Record: 237-115-0 (.673 W%)
Best current coach in the NFL? There’s only one answer to that. Bill Belichick. Current NFL coach with the worst sideline style? Same answer. From assistant coach for the Colts, Lions, Broncos, and Giants, to head coach of the Browns, to assistant for the Patriots and Jets, to where he currently resides, as head coach of the Patriots. Belichick has been quite the journeyman, but he’s not going anywhere at this point. As a 5x Super Bowl Champion, 3x AP NFL Coach of the Year, and member of the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team, his resume is astounding.
What isn’t astounding, however, is his style. Belichick can mainly be found wearing a hoodie with the sleeves cut off at the elbows, with a long-sleeved t-shirt underneath that also has the sleeves trimmed, and khakis that surprisingly alluded the scissors, thank goodness. His style says, “After the game, I’m going to train at the boxing gym,” or maybe, “Could you spare some change for a brother in need?” Either way, Belichick has mastered football strategy while neglecting wardrobe strategy.
Don Shula (33 years, 1963-1995) – Record: 328-156-6 (.677 W%)
A bonus on the list is not a current or recent coach, but he is the winningest coach in NFL history. Don Shula got his start as the D-coordinator for the Lions, then head coach for the Colts, and then became the head coach of the Dolphins. His resume includes 1 NFL Championship, 2 Super Bowl Championships, 5 AFC Championships, 4 AP NFL Coach of the Year Awards, and NFL 1970s All-Decade Team.
But what did the NFL head coach with the most wins wear? He kept it simple with a coach’s polo, khakis, and a fresh pair of shades. His style says, “Someone fetch me my playbook and a mimosa.” Nothing flashy, but this man coached over 30 years and won over 2/3 of his games. Remarkable.
Building the Ultimate Coach
So maybe I lied when I said that the greatest NFL coaches have such great swag. In reality, all they really care about is being comfortable while performing one of the hardest jobs in professional sports. We paid homage to these NFL greats despite of their lack of flashy style, but this begs the question, if we built the ultimate NFL coach sideline gear combination, what would that look like? Let’s dive in. First, it would include Bruce Arian’s hat. You can’t help but
First, it would include Bruce Arian’s hat. You can’t help but to play your heart out for a man wearing that beautiful thing. Next, you can’t leave out a classic team sweater, complete with the stripes, like Ditka’s. This piece of coach’s gear is timeless and couldn’t pair more perfectly with the before mentioned hat. But what pants to pair with these two pieces of coaching gear gold? None other than a pair of Jim Harbaugh pleated khakis. Pleats say, “I’m classy, comfy, and have room for handfuls of pocket change.” If we learned anything from observing the styles of the NFL’s most successful coaches, it’s that comfortable equals wins, and these pleated khakis are just that. So now that we have the base of the outfit, what to pair with it? Some sweet aviators, of course, as seen here on Mike Tomlin. A key trait of a great NFL coach is the ability to block out the haters, and these fresh shades are perfect for doing exactly that. This dream combination of coach’s gear is almost complete, but lacking one last thing. I know exactly what it is. A Vince Lombardi cigarette between the lips. Nothing instills fear in the opposing team like smoke billowing from the nostrils of the other team’s head coach. It’s the finishing touch on the super coach.