The Chargers Pittsburgh Connection

What is it about the city of Pittsburgh that the NFL loves so much, Is it the fact it is home to one of the Oldest Football Franchises in the NFL the Pittsburgh Steelers. Is it the fact that it is the epitome of Blue Collar workers and Steele in America? Maybe it is San Diego Chargers Head Coach Marty Schottenheimer.

No, the fact that 5 current NFL Head Coach's hail from there is the reason, Bill Cowher (Pittsburgh), Jim Haslett (New Orleans), Marvin Lewis (Cincinnati), Dave Wannstedt (Miami), and our own Marty Schottenheimer.

"Football is a large part of the heritage of Western Pennsylvania," says Cowher, who owns the longest tenure of any current NFL head coach with one team (11 seasons). "The game has such a great tradition here. It most likely stems from the blue-collar work ethic that originated from the early years of the area.

"The fact that so many NFL head coaches are natives of this area is also a tribute to the excellent football coaching available at such a formative age."

Haslett echoes his former Steelers boss. "I worked for Bill (Pittsburgh, 1997-99) and learned from him much of what it takes to be a head coach, and I always have admired Marty (Schottenheimer) as a player and a coach," says Haslett. "I believe that the area all five of us come from breeds a mutual respect for each other. I know that I respect each of those guys a tremendous amount.

"The area has a great tradition of football on all levels – tough football – and it was part of growing up as a kid. You started with it young and it just became part of your life."

The 5 coaches hailing from Pittsburgh have some stellar coaching credentials in the NFL, Lewis being the loan Rookie head coach, but was counted as one of the Best defensive Coordinators in the business.

The other 4 coaches have compiles some excellent stats themselves over the years:

Combined Coaching Seasons of Current NFL Head Coaches from Pittsburgh * Non-Losing Seasons ** Playoff Seasons Overall Coaching Record
393123382-285-2 (.572)

* Full seasons; ** Seasons with records of .500 or better

"Football always has been an important part of the fabric of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania, and I think that ties into the work ethic that is part of the culture there," says Wannstedt, who attended the University of Pittsburgh and began his coaching career at Pitt. "Growing up around Pittsburgh's steel mills, I really learned the value of hard work, and that carried over to the football field, from the scholastic ranks all the way up to the NFL."

Lewis gives credit to the true Leaders of these fine Coaches their Parents "We grew up under parents who had solid work ethics in a blue-collar environment," he says. "Their principles were built on hard work and, as a result, our foundations were built on hard work."

Schottenheimer has always been tough nosed and believed you have to earn what you get "I've always felt that the one element that you learn in Western Pennsylvania is that nobody will give you anything," says Schottenheimer. "You're going to have to work for whatever you get in your life. Western Pennsylvania was always a hotbed of football before Texas and California and Florida were recognized.

"A lot of kids grew up with the idea that football was something they were going to be involved with."

Coincidentally Lewis and Schottenheimer played for the High School McDonald, Pennsylvania under the schools legendary Pennsylvania James Garry, Garry compiled a sterling record of 265-153-14 (a .630 average) he coached from 1958-2002 and was inducted into the Pennsylvania scholastic football coaches hall of fame. "They did a real good job for me," says Garry about his former players-turned-NFL-head coaches. "They were always very attentive. They were team leaders and they're good people." So what is it about Pittsburgh that they put out so many good coaches, is it the Blue Collar attitude? Is it the instilled discipline, the fact football is ingrained in them? Or is it the fact that Pittsburgh is a football haven for players and coaches what ever it is I just hope that Marty Schottenheimer picks up on his old coaches winning ways and leads this team back to the playoffs.

Tom Criswell can be reached at: tcrisswell@cox.net or via the following link: Tom Criswell

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