Coaching Confidential provides an inside look at some of the more prominent coaches in the NFL of the past few decades. While there is nothing groundbreaking or particularly new in the book, I still found it to be interesting reading. And there were at least a few background stories that were new to me which I enjoyed learning about.
Much of the book, but not all, seems to be a little Bill Parcel’s centric as there are chapters on Sean Peyton and Bountygate, a Parcells disciple. There are also chapters on Robert Kraft and his relationships with Bill Belichick and Parcells (along with Pete Carroll). Then there is a chapter about Parcells and his motivational techniques. That is not necessarily bad, but he looms large in this book.
What really got the book off to a good start for me is the story around Sean Peyton getting suspended for Bountygate. While all football coaches at the professional level, almost by definition, must have a huge ego, Peyton is depicted as somewhat obnoxiously conceited. On the other hand, it also details how he put together a Super Bowl winning team from the detritus of a woeful Saints organization already bad but devastated by Hurricane Katrina.
Another chapter goes into detail about Bill Parcells, Pete Carroll, and Bill Belichick and their relationship with each other and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft. As most know Parcells left the Patriots after clashing with Kraft over control of personnel and a few years later Belichick jilted Parcells and the New York Jets to become head coach of the New England Patriots replacing Carroll. Being a Patriots fan I already knew much of the detail behind this. The videotaping incident also got its fair share of attention in this chapter, and is probably the first real source describing how Kraft felt about it.
This is followed by yet another chapter on Parcells and his motivational tactics…aka…mind games that he used to motivate players. Some of the anecdotes were quite funny.
There are two chapters devoted to very dysfunctional relationships that eventually blew apart. The first is the Jerry Jones and Jimmy Johnson saga in Dallas. The other is the Dan Reeves, Mike Shanahan, John Elway troika in Denver. A love triangle it was not. Elway hated Reeves and Reeves didn’t love Elway too much either, or so it appears, and Shanahan was the guy in the middle who eventually took over for after Reeves was fired. Elway basically had Reeves run out of town but it remains unclear Shanahan’s role in the situation. Reeves thinks Shanahan stabbed him in the back, metaphorically. Of course Shanahan eventually got two Super Bowls in Denver.
There are also chapters on Joe Gibbs return to the Redskins under Dan Snyder (nothing new here), Tony Dungy’s “lost” Super Bowl after getting run out of Tampa Bay followed by his eventual Super Bowl win with the Indianapolis Colts (likewise, nothing new here), Brian Billick of the Baltimore Ravens getting fired unexpectedly (nothing new here), and Dick Vermeil and his burnout with the Eagles and subsequent return many years later to coach the Kansas City Chiefs, then the St. Louis Rams, and his retirement from the Rams after their Super Bowl win (again, nothing new here).
And we get a glimpse in the last chapter of the world of REX…as in Rex Ryan. Rex Ryan stories are always fun to read because he is such a goofball.
Overall, this book is a quick and enjoyable read if you are an NFL fan. The only drawback is much of these details had already been reported before but there is enough new information here to make it worth the read.