PHOENIX — The Bears’ hiring of John Fox has received virtually unanimous approval by those in the NFL who know him — coaches and players. But Fox received a rare unsolicited shout-out from Seahawks coach Pete Carroll — “How could you not want to hire John Fox. He’s a great coach and communicator” — on Wednesday at his Super Bowl press conference.
Carroll was asked about “re-tread” NFL head coaches and what advantage the previous experience gives a “second-opportunity” head coach. Carroll actually is a “third-opportunity” head coach. He was fired after one season with the New York Jets in 1994. He also was fired by the Patriots in 1999 after three seasons.
Like hiring hot coordinators or other first-time head coaches, hiring “re-treads” is a hit-and-miss proposition. Still, 11 of the last 17 Super Bowl winners were led by coaches with previous experience — including Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who was fired by the Cleveland Browns in 1995 after five seasons.
So what’s the advantage?
“Well, coming from a re-tread — multiple times — it’s just experiences,” Carroll said at the Arizona Grand Resort. “This is a really difficult job first time. There are so many things that happen in this position that you just can’t predict and you just don’t know, don’t see it coming in your preparation. You just have to deal with it as it hits you.
“Everybody’s going to falter and make mistakes and say, ‘God I wish I would have known then what I know now.’ That’s going to happen. Unfortunately, what doesn’t always happen is that guys don’t get enough time to work through those early years so that you can find your way and find your voice and find your perspective.
“So often guys get kicked out. I got kicked out after one year with the Jets — I didn’t even get started figuring that thing out. It was a mess. But those experiences are extraordinarily valuable.
“I can see why owners look to a guy who’s had those experiences. To hire a guy like John Fox — how could you not want to hire John Fox. He’s done everything. He’s been through it all. And he’s a great coach and a communicator. I understand why guys get a second chance.
“It’s based on the accumulated experiences that give you more wisdom, more understanding and also an opportunity to see a guy. You’ve seen him in a situation and you know more so what you’re getting. I think that happens, too.”
Like Carroll, Fox is in his third head-coaching stint in the NFL. He was fired in 2010 after nine seasons with the Carolina Panthers. He was fired after his fourth season with the Denver Broncos in 2014.