Gus Bradley: Where's the Super Bowl experience?

The Eagles will fly Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley to Philadelphia for a second interview on Tuesday.(Ted S. Warren/AP file photo)
The Eagles will fly Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley to Philadelphia for a second interview on Tuesday.(Ted S. Warren/AP file photo)
Posted: January 16, 2013

With the Eagles zooming in on a possible new head coach, a question comes to mind:

Shouldn't a franchise that has never won a Super Bowl pick someone who has played some role - even as a player or an assistant coach - in capturing the Lombardi Trophy?

The Eagles went two Super Bowls, and lost them both, in 1981 and 2005, the latter under current owner Jeffrey Lurie. General manager Howie Roseman's short career has also been entirely with the Eagles.

The Eagles don't even have a quarterback who could be called a champion.

Yet, today the club may hire Seattle defensive coordinator Gus Bradley to be Andy Reid's replacement.

Bradley's been praised as a dynamic leader and the creator of a league-leading defense, but his resume's only location where fans got to shout, "We're No. 1," was at North Dakota State. As a safety and punter, he helped NDSU win a Division II national title in 1988.

Bradley arrived at the Seahawks in 2009 - three years after Seattle lost in its one and only Super Bowl appearance.

Previously, he worked as a defensive assistant in Tampa Bay, starting in 2006 - three years after the Buccaneers won in their only Super Bowl appearance.

Before that, his resume involved coaching at little known colleges in North Dakota and Colorado.

No Super Bowl experience, no national college championship experience, apparently.

Looking at Super Bowls over the last decade, most were won by coaches who brought Super Bowl-winning experience to their first head coaching job. A couple of others found it in the franchise that hired them.

Tom Coughlin, who won in 2012 and 2008, was an assistant to Bill Parcells when the Giants won in 1991.

The defensive coordinator on that team was Bill Belichick, who as head coach of the New England Patriots won three Super Bowls - and lost the two won by Coughlin. Belichick also won as Giants defensive coordinator in 1987.

Mike Tomlin, whose Pittsburgh Steelers won in 2009, was defensive backs coach when Tampa Bay won the 2003 Super Bowl. He also arrived in Pittsburgh to find a Super Bowl-winning quarterback (Ben Roethlisberger, 2006) and a tradition of family ownership that had snagged four other Super Bowls.

Tony Dungy, who helmed the Indianapolis Colts to their Super Bowl win in 2007, was a player on the 1978 Steelers championship team.

Three other cases, though, suggest it's not essential to have been on a Super Bowl winner before being hired to lead a team to win one.

But Sean Payton, who won as New Orleans Saints coach in 2010, was offensive coordinator on the 2001 New York Giants team that won an NFC Championship, only to lose to the Baltimore Ravens in the Super Bowl.

When Mike McCarthy, who won with the Green Bay Packers in 2011, was hired in 2006, the franchise still had a Super Bowl-winning quarterback in Brett Favre.

Cowher, the guy who won with Roethlisberger in 2006, was hired by Pittsburgh's Rooney family with its tradition of trophy-hoisting.

Jon Gruden, who won with Tampa Bay in 2003, had no clear championship connection, other than joining the 49ers staff in 1990 - after the team won a Super Bowl.

Of course, none of this foretells what might happen if the Eagles hire Bradley.

But it seems to suggest he'd be wise to bring in a key assistant or two with some Lombardi Trophy savvy.

Not that Super Bowl rings are guarantees.

Lurie's first hire as head coach, Ray Rhodes, had five such rings, collected in assistant jobs with the 49ers. But Rhodes led the Eagles to only a single playoff win.

Reid, who has a ring from his days as a Packers' assistant, had much more success than Rhodes, but ultimately failed to deliver a title to Philadelphia.

Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or

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