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January 11, 2016

Examining the fact that no NFL coach has won a Super Bowl with two teams

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011116TomCoughlinBillParcells L.M. Otero/AP

Screamypants McGee and and the Tuna shake hands after a Giants-Cowboys game played in 1932.

In a weird twist, the Philadelphia Eagles are scheduled to meet with Tom Coughlin today for their head coaching vacancy. Coughlin, of course, won two recent Super Bowls with the New York Giants, in 2007 and 2011.

When NFL teams are looking for a new head coach and a guy with a Super Bowl background emerges (Jon Gruden and Bill Cowher being two recent examples), it is often pointed out that in the history of the NFL, no head coach has ever won a Super Bowl with two different teams.

This year will mark the 50th such year that will not happen, as no current NFL coach -- not even any who have already been eliminated -- is coaching a new team after having won the big one. We'll examine if there's anything behind that, or if it's just a meaningless factoid.

To begin, the reality is that there haven't been that many chances for it to happen. Only 30 people in the history of mankind have won a Super Bowl as an NFL head coach. Of those 30 coaches, 19 of them (63 percent) never coached another team after their Super Bowl wins. 

That list includes, in chronological order (with their number of Super Bowl wins in parenthesis): Weeb Ewbank (1), Tom Landry (2), Don Shula (2), Chuck Noll (4), John Madden (1), Bill Walsh (3), Joe Gibbs (3), Barry Switzer (1), Brian Billick (1), Bill Belichick (4), Jon Gruden (1), Bill Cowher (1), Tony Dungy (1), Tom Coughlin (2), Mike Tomlin (1), Sean Payton (1), Mike McCarthy (1), John Harbaugh (1), and Pete Carroll (1).

Of the remaining 11 coaches, only one, Bill Parcells, coached multiple teams. Nine of them coached their new team for four years or less:

1) Vince Lombardi coached the Redskins for one oddball year after his reign with the Packers.

2) Hank Stram coached the Saints for two years (1976-77) after he won with the Kansas City Chiefs. The Saints, at the time, were a laughingstock and perennial loser. It took them until 1987 (their 21st season in the NFL) to post a winning record. Stram went 7-21 in New Orleans before being fired.

3) Don McCafferty coached the Lions for one year after he won with the Baltimore Colts in his first season as a head coach. He coached just two years in the NFL before dying of a heart attack.

4) Tom Flores coached the Seahawks for three ugly seasons (14-34) after he won two Super Bowls with the Raiders.

5) Mike Ditka coached the Saints for three ugly seasons (15-33), and traded his entire draft for Ricky Williams, after he won with the Bears.

6) George Seifert coached the Panthers for three ugly seasons (16-32) after he won two Super Bowls with the 49ers. He is the only coach in Panthers team history not to have at least one winning season. 

7) Jimmy Johnson coached the Dolphins for four years after he won two Super Bowls with the Cowboys. He resigned after the third season, but came back for a fourth and then quit for good after the Jaguars beat them 62-7 in the playoffs. Johnson had some success in Miami, going 36-28, but they never came close to a Super Bowl.

8) Mike Shanahan coached the Redskins for four years after he won two Super Bowls with the Broncos. He won one NFC East championship, before he got destroyed by the Seahawks in the playoffs, leading to his and Robert Griffin III's eventual downfalls.

9) Dick Vermeil coached four years with the Chiefs after he won the Super Bowl with the Rams. The Chiefs went 38-26 under Vermeil, starting one season 9-0 and finishing 13-3 before losing their first playoff game. 

The two remaining coaches who coached more than four years with their new teams are Parcells and Mike Holmgren, each of whom made the Super Bowl in subsequent stops, but lost.

10) Parcells coached 11 more years with the Patriots, Jets, and Cowboys. He made it to the Super Bowl with a not-that-great Patriots team that was ironically enough beaten by Holmgren's Packers. Parcells helped turn three losing franchises into winning teams. His combined record with the Pats, Jets, and Cowboys was 95-81.

11) Holmgren coached 10 years with the Seahawks after his eight with the Packers. In Seattle, he went 86-74, appearing in the Super Bowl against the Steelers, when he lost in what was one of the worst officiated games I've ever seen.

As you would expect, the above coaches mostly inherited awful football teams. In fact, the 11 coaches above inherited 13 teams that had a combined winning percentage of 0.326 in their previous season. Here's a list of the teams they inherited:

 CoachTeam inherited 
 Vince Lombardi1968 Redskins 
 Don McCafferty1972 Lions 
 Hank Stram1975 Saints 12 
 Tom Flores1991 Seahawks 
 Bill Parcells1992 Patriots 14 
 Jimmy Johnson1995 Dolphins 
 Mike Ditka1996 Saints 13 
 Bill Parcells1996 Jets 15 
 George Seifert1998 Panthers 12 
 Mike Holmgren1998 Seahawks 
 Dick Vermeil2000 Chiefs 
 Bill Parcells2002 Cowboys 11 
 Mike Shanahan2009 Redskins 12 
 11 coaches13 teams 65 136 

So there you have it -- Of the 11 coaches, two got back to the big dance, one perhaps should have won, and none of the other nine coached more than four years after leaving the team with whom they previously won it all.

I'd lean toward calling it an interesting factoid over some kind of compelling evidence that no coach will ever win the Super Bowl with a second team.

Follow Jimmy on Twitter: @JimmyKempski

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