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Del Rio's time


It's hard to imagine Paul Brown or Vince Lombardi standing on that podium last Friday, interlocking hands with their new team's owner as confetti fell from the ceiling and fans cheered. "Press conferences" that announced the hiring of a new coach were much more subdued in Brown's and Lombardi's days; heck, they were more sedate in Tom Coughlin's day.

But these are different days. Coaches aren't products of the ranks any longer. Brown and Lombardi coached at the high school and college levels before they made it to pro football. Comparatively speaking, the resumes of today's NFL coaches boast of a few whistle stops.

"Many people will see this as a bold move; that you're taking a risk on someone who does not have a long resume," Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver admitted of his decision to take a chance on Jack Del Rio.

So, why do it?

Because what NFL teams are seeking in head coaches today is dramatically different from what teams were seeking from the Browns, Lombardis, Tom Landrys, Don Shulas and Chuck Nolls.

These days, head coaches have staffs of 17 or 18 assistant coaches. The offensive coordinator runs the offense and the defensive coordinator does the defense, and the head coach stands along the sideline listening through his headset to his coordinators running the show.

In contrast, Noll served as his own offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach and special teams coach. Noll won more Super Bowls than any coach in history, and with only seven coaches on his staff.

In those days, head coaches truly coached. These days, head coaches are hired for what they may provide in the way of image and personality. They are hired to be the symbol and identity of their team.

"We're in the entertainment business. It's about more than just a football game. (Jack Del Rio) does see the big picture," Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver said.

Those words are a one-size-fits-all explanation about the state of today's NFL. Brown, with his dry personality, and Lombardi, with his unyielding and rigid temperament, may have been life-long assistants in today's game. They may not have had the right stuff.

Del Rio is a graduate of the Brian Billick "school for becoming a head coach." Billick impressed on his young assistant the need to begin preparing for the day when he would get his first interview for a head-coaching vacancy.

"It comes down to making a note, creating a file," Del Rio said of his preparation. "Brian encouraged us to begin that process while I was a coach under his tutelage. While we were on the road and some guys were looking at movies, maybe I was making a note file. I like to look at the big picture," Del Rio added.

Here's the big picture, folks. Del Rio is handsome and well-spoken. His wife is attractive and personable and the Del Rio's have four wonderful children. The Democratic party would love to have a man who presents such a wholesome image.

Del Rio was hired for those reasons and his ability to express himself in an interview, as much as for Weaver's belief Del Rio can also coach the game of football. But, heck, the world is full of guys who can coach the game of football. Weaver and the Jaguars needed something more.

Weaver needed a man whose personality would spill out of the locker room and into the community. Del Rio clearly offers that potential. If the Jaguars win, Del Rio could become more popular than even Weaver could expect.

And that's the whole idea. It's not just football; it's entertainment. Brown and Lombardi would've hated today's game.

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