It's Monday evening at the NovaCare Complex and the Eagles' coaching staff gathers for dinner before returning upstairs to continue their prep work on the Minnesota Vikings. This is a time, albeit brief, for the staff to unwind from the stress of the job. Their work is truly never done. It's all-consuming from Monday until kickoff on gameday, or night, and then the cycle restarts the following week.
If you want to coach in the NFL, you commit fully. The reward is the teaching of young men and helping them reach their full football potential within the context of winning football games.
What would have happened for this coaching staff had they not gone into the profession? We know that head coach Doug Pederson jumped into a high school coaching job upon his retirement from playing the game, but what about his coaching staff? Here is what the coordinators and position coaches had to say when asked the "What if you hadn't taken the coaching route?" question …
Mike Groh, offensive coordinator
"After I finished playing at Virginia, I was a stockbroker for a couple of years and a radio sideline reporter for UVA (University of Virginia) games. Then I started coaching and here I am. Doing the stockbroker job, I was just a kid trying to figure things out and it was OK. I love the game of football and I'm glad I got back into it as a coach. It's been very rewarding."
Jim Schwartz, defensive coordinator
"I don't know. I honestly never really thought about it. I've been all-in on coaching since I finished playing at Georgetown and didn't look back."
Dave Fipp, special teams coordinator
"There are so many things. I'm not sure I could name just one. I got into coaching right after college, so I never really thought about it, but I could see myself as a river rafting guide or a fly-fishing guide. That's actually what I thought I was going to do and not go to college. I wanted to go out to Colorado or Idaho and do that, but instead, I went to college and football became my career. Another idea, maybe, I would have been a pilot. I would have enjoyed that."
Duce Staley, running backs coach/assistant head coach
"I would have been retired from my other career – playing in the league. I did a little bit of radio work in South Carolina after I played. Maybe I would have done some of that, but after my playing career ended, I was going to be retired and happy and then a coaching opportunity came along. Once I got into coaching, I loved it. I love the teaching aspect of it. But if I hadn't done coaching, man, I think I would have just stayed retired from everything."
Phillip Daniels, defensive line
"Honestly, I always wanted to give professional wrestling a try. I played in the NFL and was always a physical guy, so being a 'rassler would have been fun. I'll go with that: Professional wrestler. I would have gotten after some guys."
Ken Flajole, linebackers
"I would have gone into the FBI. In fact, I interviewed and got the job going into the FBI and then they did the home interview. The guy said, 'If you think coaching is exciting wait until you rack a shotgun on a drug bust.' My wife (Teri) looked at me and said, 'No way.' That's the truth. And that was the end of my FBI career.
"When I was early in coaching, I saw guys getting fired all the time and I didn't want to put my kids through that where I'm moving around all over the place. One of my father's friends was a Seattle director of the FBI and he got me connected. I did all the interviews before the very last one, the home interview, the last one they do before they send you to Quantico for the real FBI stuff and that's when it ended."
Tim Hauck, safeties
"When I went to college, the plan was to be a high school teacher and a high school football coach and that was basically following in my father's footsteps. That was the way I was headed. My dad (Robert Sr.) was a 30-year coach at Sweetgrass County High School in Montana. He was my mentor and my idol and I tried to replicate him as much as I could. I happened to have a long professional playing career and then had the thought along the way that I would go right into coaching, and here I am. I couldn't have asked for anything better."
Justin Peelle, tight ends
"I would have probably been a teacher. I played in the NFL and then got into coaching, but if I hadn't taken that path, I probably would have gone back and taught high school. Football is something I've been doing my entire life and I'm fortunate to be here. We're all teachers, so that would have been a natural career for me."
Jeff Stoutland, offensive line/run game coordinator
"Teacher. I was born and raised to be a teacher. That's what I was going to be, to be honest with you. But my position coach in college, Paul Pasqualoni, got me into coaching. If it weren't for him, I don't know if I would have ever gotten into coaching. I taught elementary school, I taught junior high school, physical education. I have a master's degree in exercise science, so that was the way I was going. Then I got into coaching and it was no turning back once I got into the business."
Press Taylor, quarterbacks
"I'd probably be in ministry. I'm from the Bible Belt in Oklahoma and that's something that has always been in my heart. Football provides a path to do that and I'm fortunate to be in the room that I'm in, with the guys that I'm with. My faith is important to me and I grew up in a house that emphasized that and my relationship with God and my walk through life with Him is the ultimate priority for me. My father (Sherwood) coached, and he coached us in the sports we played, and he passed along his knowledge to us and I wanted to continue to be around it after my playing days were done. I'm blessed to be here now and I'm enjoying every minute of it."
Cory Undlin, defensive backs
"I was a fourth-grade teacher for one year, went to middle school for a year, and then I taught in high school, a physical education and health teacher at Malibu (Calif.) High School. I surfed every day before school. We were on the block schedule, so my first class didn't start until like 9:30 or 10 in the morning. I had my surfboard in the back of the truck and I went surfing every morning. I had a key to the gate at a beach, Little Dume, and then I'd roll into school to teach. The guy who coached me when I played at Cal Lutheran got the head coaching job there and he said to me, 'Hey, man, you want to come back to Cal Lu and coach and do the college thing?' I took it."
Carson Walch, wide receivers
"I probably would be an elementary school teacher. That's what I studied for my undergrad in college and I did my master's degree work in education (both at Winona State). My goal was to be a teacher and if I had time to coach at the high school level, I would do it. My older brother, Travis, did the same thing at the same university and he liked it. We ran the summer recreation programs back at home. The idea of being around a second-grader or a sixth-grader and teaching them and showing patience and seeing them grow, that's very rewarding."