Sean Payton is the new coach of the Denver Broncos, and I'll be a little honest: It's going to take some getting used to. That's always the case when coaches who have been in one spot for awhile take on a new gig, but the adjustment will be especially notable with Payton, who was so identifiable with not only the Saints after 15 seasons helming that team, but with the city of New Orleans. He's an original who stands out on his own; he's not like anything else you've ever seen before from a head coach. And that's New Orleans, a city that combines many different styles but has a uniqueness that can't be matched.
With that in mind, and in light of the fact we have some time to kill before Super Bowl LVII, I'm giving you five coaches whose personalities best match the home cities of the teams they lead:
I'm sure a lot of you will be upset about this and get into my mentions, and I get you. Most of you will say Rams coach Sean McVay should represent Los Angeles, which just seems so obvious. But McVay has always seemed more Manhattan to me. Or, at the very least, like a guy who is not from Southern California but kind of fits the stereotype of what other people not from Southern California think of when they think of someone from Southern California. He's got that high-energy, take-no-prisoners approach, like if Ari Gold was a football coach. But that's more like what you would see on a TV show, and not here in the streets of L.A. (And I say "streets of a L.A." like I don't hang out in a beach town.)
Staley, on the other hand, is exactly who Southern Californians are. Actually, let me be more specific: He is exactly like the dudes I grew up with in Southern California. (That's right, I was born in the Chicago suburbs but grew up in the Inland Empire, in Corona -- the home of Vans tennis shoes.) We recently had a golf tournament, and Staley would have fit in with all of my friends. So much so that I had to Google to make sure we didn't go to high school together.
Here's the thing about Staley: He's got that low-key demeanor but also that aggressive streak that I've come to expect from people out here. Like, he'd be a super chill guy at the taco truck, but also willing to drop in on a wave before you get the chance to take it. Staley is that guy.
Reid is going to be well-received in any city in America. Not only does he have a great personality, which has been illuminated by his excellent acting chops in TV spots, but dude can rock a pretty mean Hawaiian shirt, which brings to mind every Midwestern relative of mine when they go on vacation. But really, Reid is one of those guys who can thrive in a hardened city like Philadelphia, but he can also flourish in Kansas City, thanks to his Midwestern sensibilities. Again, he's like those aforementioned relatives, super-nice folks who show up with a smile on their face and a fresh-baked pie, but once you sit down to a game of euchre, they are cutthroat and end up taking all of your money. Similar to the way Reid continues to out-coach just about everybody in the NFL.
Basically, he's one of the best to ever do it, a sustained winner. (Although if you know Kansas City through the Royals, you might think Kansas City really doesn't like sustained winning all that much, given how quickly the Royals dismantled their franchise after they won a World Series.) The Chiefs had Marty Schottenheimer, who was an incredible coach, for years. I'm glad Reid was able to win that elusive title for K.C. in Super Bowl LIV. (I know Hank Stram won Super Bowl IV, but you know what I mean.) We'll see if Reid can lift the organization into the three-plus-Lombardis club on Sunday.
The first time I really paid attention to Saleh was when he was drawing notice for his enthusiastic presence on the 49ers' sideline during his tenure as San Francisco's defensive coordinator. I thought he carried himself like one of those firefighters who lived in Rockaway Beach and would come into my sister's bar in Astoria on their way home. He exudes confidence, and when he walks into a room, you've immediately bought in, but he's also not off-putting; he seems approachable. For me, there is a real NYC authenticity to Saleh. And it makes me root for him even more. Especially with the way he handled Zach Wilson, sending him to the bench multiple times while remaining vocally in his corner. That tough love was pure New York. Love it.
I mean, this one is super obvious. And I'll come right out and say it: I love what Campbell did this season. Hell, I'm jealous, as a Bears fan. Outside of winning a Super Bowl, the dream of NFC North teams is to get one over on Aaron Rodgers and knock the Packers out of contention. Which is exactly what the Lions did. In a game that didn't even matter to Detroit, which had already been eliminated. And excelling in games that don't matter is what the Lions are all about. Just kidding! (Cheap shot, cheap shot.)
I know it's cliché at this point, but I can't think of a coach who is better suited for Detroit than Dan Campbell. He's got that mentality that's perfect for the city. I love Detroit. It's always had an edge. And when I was growing up, I hated the Detroit Pistons. Campbell can be that guy in a football sense. We all love the Lions because of Campbell and what we saw on Hard Knocks. In fact, we're getting close to where we are going to turn on him, because the Lions could end up being one of those bully teams in the NFL, just like the old-school Pistons.
This seems convenient because of the Eagles' dominance in their run to the Super Bowl this season. And really, it's amazing how far this team has come over the past two seasons, because Sirianni was brutal during his introductory press conference, as he'd surely admit. The Eagles started slow, going 9-8 in his first year on the job in 2021, but look at where they are now, coming off a 14-3 campaign and rolling to within one game of winning it all.
I wanted to know what real Philly fans thought, so I turned to my friend, ECW legend and Eagles fan Brian Heffron (a.k.a. the Blue Meanie), who told me this:
"Philly identifies with Nick through his passion. Philly is a hard-working, passionate city and we recognize those who not only show they are as invested emotionally as we are but hold themselves accountable. Nick has done that time and time again and we love him for that. He is one of us."
You totally see that, too. Especially during the playoffs. Securing a second Super Bowl win for the franchise -- against Reid, who has the most regular-season wins in Eagles history -- would only further endear Sirianni to Philly.