How September 11 propelled Robert Saleh’s coaching career

Robert Saleh will make his head coach debut when the Jets visit the Panthers on Sunday, but not too long ago he was on a different career path.

Twenty years ago Saleh was a recent college graduate working at a Michigan bank. But after the heartbreaking events of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Saleh decided to change.

Saleh began to question his future in banking after his brother, David, escaped the South Tower of the World Trade Center before it collapsed on the day of the attacks. Saleh began to wonder if he was happy with his life, or if there was something else he preferred to do.

The day after Tom Brady won his first championship with the Patriots in Super Bowl 36, Saleh burst into tears in his cabin. It was then that the desire to coach attracted Saleh, who played college ball in Northern Michigan’s Division II.

“My dad always said he regretted not coaching football and I started to feel that urge to coach and try,” Saleh told NFL Films. “Otherwise, I felt like I would regret.

The move put Saleh on a path to becoming the first American Muslim head coach in NFL history. But first, he had to meet several key people who shaped his coaching career and his philosophy.

First, his high school coach put him in touch with Michigan State Assistant Athletic Director Mike Vollmar, who gave Saleh his first post as a graduate assistant for the Spartans in 2002. He has left Michigan State for central Michigan in 2003 and almost took on another assistant. work in Georgia before receiving a call from Tony Oden to join him as a defensive intern with the Houston Texans. Oden and Saleh coached together at Central Michigan and Oden now coaches the Jets cornerbacks under Saleh.

In Houston, Saleh met then wide receiver coach Kyle Shanahan, who ultimately hired Saleh as the 49ers’ defensive coordinator in 2017. Saleh also coached in Seattle with Pete Carroll from 2011 to 2013, where he won. his first Super Bowl as a coach at MetLife. Stadium during the 2013 season.

Through the tragedy, I was fortunate to have a series of events that happened to me in a positive way ”, Saleh Recount Steve Serby of the New York Post in July. “September 11 kicked off my coaching career.”

Today, the final chapter in Saleh’s coaching career unfolds miles away from the scene of the events that started it all. The 20th head coach in Jets history, Saleh will make his official debut a day after the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

“It gives me goosebumps,” Saleh said.



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