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Raiders coaching search: Players turned coaches

Antonio Pierce wants to join this exclusive list

Las Vegas Raiders v Miami Dolphins
Antonio Pierce
Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images

Las Vegas Raiders’ interim head coach Antonio Pierce is fighting to show he deserves to be hired as the team’s full-time head coach for 2024 and beyond.

If this happens, he will be added to the list of NFL head coaches who are players. Pierce was a Super Bowl-winning linebacker as he played from 2001-09 with Washington and the New York Giants.

Let’s look at the current NFL head coaches who played in the NFL. (Coaches who were just on practice squads or had very brief NFL playing careers aren’t listed.):

  • Todd Bowles, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: He played from 1986-93 with Washington and San Francisco as a safety.
  • Dan Campbell, Detroit Lions: He was a tight end from 1999-2009 with the Giants, Dallas, Detroit and New Orleans.
  • Kevin O’Connell, Minnesota Vikings: He was a deep backup quarterback with New England and the Jets from 2008-11 with some stops on some other team’s practice squads.
  • Doug Pederson, Jacksonville Jaguars: He was a backup quarterback from 1992-2004 with stops in Miami, Green Bay, Philadelphia and Cleveland. He was best known as being Brett Favre’s backup with the Packers in two different stints.
  • Ron Rivera, Washington Commanders: He was a linebacker with the Chicago Bears from 1984-92 and was part of the ‘85 Super Bowl champion Bears. which was considered as the great defensive teams ever.
  • DeMeco Ryans, Houston Texans: He was a linebacker with Houston and Philadelphia from 2006-15. he was the Defensive Rookie of the Year and made two Pro Bowl teams. He was an excellent player.
NFL: New England Patriots at Baltimore Ravens
Mike Vrabel in 2007
James Lang-USA TODAY Sports
  • Mike Vrabel, Tennessee Titans: He was a linebacker from 1997-2010 with Pittsburgh, New England and Kansas City. His career was highlighted by eight seasons with the Patriots in which he won three Super Bowl rings and was an All-Pro in 2007. Like Ryans, he was a quality player.


  • Frank Reich, was fired by the Carolina Panthers Monday: He was mostly a backup quarterback from 1985-98 with four teams highlighted by 10 seasons in Buffalo as Jim Kelly’s backup. He engineered a 32-point comeback in the playoffs, which was the greatest NFL comeback in any game until last year. He started 20 games in his 14-year career.