Esteemed position coach Kirby Wilson announced his retirement on Friday. While it is a loss for the Raiders, the NFL as a whole is a different place without him in it.
A lasting mark on the league
Wilson was able to achieve something very rare in his time in the NFL: Longevity. Entering the league in 1997 with the New England Patriots as a running backs coach, he would hold that position for the next 23 years. The first player he helped coach at the position? None other than Hall of Famer, Curtis Martin. After a stop in Washington and a return to the college game over the next two years, he joined Jon Gruden’s new staff in Tampa Bay. As such, he won his first Super Bowl ring in 2002 over the Oakland Raiders.
In 2004, he was a member of the Arizona Cardinals where he would have the privilege of working with the NFL’s all-time leading rusher, Emmitt Smith. Of course, Smith was not the same player at that point in his career but he still posted 937 yards and nine touchdowns under Wilson’s guidance. From 2007-13 he would be in Pittsburgh. Working mostly with Willie Parker and Rashard Mendenhall, Wilson would earn his second Super Bowl win in 2008. In 2015, Wilson would have a front-row seat to watch another future Hall of Famer. While in Minnesota, he would help coach Adrian Peterson to a 1,485-yard season.
Reuniting with Jon Gruden
After a stop in Cleveland and a return to Arizona, Wilson would receive a call from an old friend in Gruden. In that same year, the Raiders drafted running back Josh Jacobs in the first round. This marriage instantly paid dividends as Jacobs was a Rookie of the Year contender on the back of a 1,150 yard, seven-touchdown season. After helping guide Jacobs to a Pro Bowl season in 2020, Wilson decided to hang em up. Although he mostly operated out of the spotlight, Wilson had a hand in the careers of several Hall of Famers. Replacing Wilson will be difficult, but his retirement is well earned.
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*Top Photo: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports