Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Can An Overweight Head Coach Win The Super Bowl?

Two months ago, a P1 emailed me with a theory. He wondered if Wade Phillips could lead Dallas to a championship. Not because of Wade's abilities as a motivator or strategist, but because of his weight. The listener pointed out that no overweight coach has ever won the Super Bowl.

So far this post season, Wade Phillips and Andy Reid have been eliminated. That leaves Rex Ryan as the heavy torch bearer for overweight coaches. If the Colts and their normal-weight coach Jim Caldwell eliminate the Jets this weekend, it will be another blow to high BMI coaches everywhere.

Why does this theory hold water? Is it because players will never fully buy what you are selling if you don't look the part? The players spend most of their time working out and staying fit, so does it wear on them to have to take orders from someone who looks like the Pillsbury Dough Boy?

Back in the day, the first thing the Cowboys had to do when they reported for training camp was run "The Landry Mile". Coach Tom Landry, who was eternally fit, required the players to run a mile in 6 minutes or less. Landry could do it, and he expected his athletes to at least be in as good of shape as he was. Do you think those players respected their coach--especially the ones that Landry beat in the mile?

Not every Super Bowl winning coach has looked like Usain Bolt. But, none have looked like Wade or Rex, either. The evidence follows.

Weeb Ewbank won a title with the Jets, but was just old and stocky:

Hank Stram, champion in 1970, was also stocky, but not fat:

The first coach that everyone brings up when discussing overweight Super Bowl winners is John Madden. However, photographic evidence shows that Madden was big and had a strange body, but in his first few years with the Raiders was not overweight:

Even when Madden won the Super Bowl in 1977, he was not Phillips/Ryan-like. He looked more like an offensive lineman:

When Bill Parcells was in Dallas, he was definitely overweight. But not when he was winning Super Bowls with the Giants:

One other coach that some bring up is Mike Holmgren. Today? Overweight. Back in 1997 when he lead Favre and the Packers to the title? Not overweight:

As you can see, the odds are stacked against those who stack their pancakes too high.

Coming soon: Can a really tall coach win soccer's World Cup?


  1. Parcells was much larger during his first Super Bowl run than the picture shownL Probably 20-30 pounds heavier. He wasn't Sexy Rexy or anything, but he definitely had the FUPA rocking.

    Here's him being carried off the field after the win:


  2. This post is exactly why Spank Miller is now the greatest sports blogger of all time. Love it.