Frank Reich knew he wanted to go into coaching even before his 14-year NFL playing career was over. He was advised to spend a few years away from football after retiring instead of entering the coaching profession immediately, which he did.
He went to his daughters’ swim meets and took them to school. Reich also decided to go to seminary.
>> Subscribe to Sports Spectrum Magazine for more stories where sports and faith connect <<
“The No. 1 goal is to magnify the name of Jesus Christ first and foremost above all things,” Reich said in an interview with “Beyond the Game” co-host and Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy back in December. “Whether it was in ministry or in coaching, no matter what I was going to choose to do, that was going to be my mission in life.”
Reich thought he might spend his professional career as a pastor, but the desire to coach was still there. In 2006, Dungy, then the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, offered him an internship. Reich accepted and became the team’s quarterbacks coach in 2009.
“I really thought [ministry] might be it,” he said. “But at the end of the day, I don’t think that was God’s calling on my life.”
After serving as the offensive coordinator for the Super Bowl-champion Philadelphia Eagles in 2018, Reich expected to be one of the top candidates for teams hiring a new head coach that offseason. He didn’t hear from a single team. No one even asked him to come interview.
“It hurt,” Reich said. “I was really disappointed. I mean, it was my dream to be a head coach.”
When Josh McDaniels withdrew his name after initially agreeing to become the Colts’ next head coach, the call finally came.
Reich was introduced as the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts on Feb. 11, 2018. The team lost five of its first six games but went 9-1 the rest of the way and reached the playoffs in his first season. The turnaround led to Reich being named the 2018 AFC Coach of the Year.
“Even when we were 1-5 and to the outside world it looked like there was nothing happening, that wasn’t true,” he said. “And everybody in that building knew it wasn’t true. That was the really neat thing.”
This past season, Reich led the Colts to a 7-9 record after the unexpected retirement of quarterback Andrew Luck during the preseason.
Reich’s unconventional path to becoming an NFL head coach has taught him to be present and surrender the future to God.
“What I find time and time again is just rest and trust in the Lord’s plan,” he said. “Enjoy where you’re at in that moment, in that process, and then just learn and grow from it. Then when the opportunities arise, they’ll arise. But in the meantime, don’t miss out.”
— Colts’ Frank Reich named AFC Coach of the Year after improbable debut season
— Colts’ Coach of the Year candidate Frank Reich says God is his ‘top priority’
— Frank Reich’s journey from pastor to Indianapolis Colts head coach