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This kept Steve Mariucci from coaching WFT instead of Zorn originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
Family always comes first.
That was especially the case when former 49ers and Lions coach and current NFL Network analyst Steve Mariucci was deciding whether or not to uproot his family from California to Washington. Mariucci was in advanced talks with Dan Snyder to become Washington's next head coach after Joe Gibbs retired for a second time following the 2007 season.
"He had been at NFL Network for about a year, maybe two. He was fired from Detroit after that run there," Dan Hellie said on the latest Washington Football Talk podcast while providing a sneak peak of his interview with Mariucci. "And Snyder liked him and wanted to hire him. He didn't want to move his family to Washington."
Hellie, a Fox Sports and UFC host who's about as knowledgeable as they come about the Burgundy and Gold thanks to his time covering Washington, recently had Mariucci on the "The HelliePod" in an all-encompassing, hour-plus conversation about his career.
This came at a crucial juncture for Washington. Gibbs had just retired as the coach and president after getting bounced in the first round of the playoffs, similarly citing family obligations as to why he was stepping back. The following coaches sported a 74-147 overall record, fielded and underdeveloped 14 starting quarterbacks and lost two playoff games spanning from the time Gibbs left and current coach Ron Rivera was hired.
Perhaps if Mariucci had made the move, things may very well have turned out differently.
But as Mariucci explained to Hellie, though he and his wife moved around 18 times over the course of his 27-year coaching career, his children were now in high school and it would've been more difficult to change schools and make new friends like they had done in past moves. Personal decisions trumped professional decisions for Mariucci, who, as he had done with other coaching opportunities, put it up to a family vote.
"He was the only one that wanted to coach in Washington. He said I had to tap out, and they ended up going with Jim Zorn," Hellie recalled.
Sixteen years later, though Mariucci said he's happy at NFL Network, he did say he briefly thought about leaving his family in California and taking the coaching gig in Washington. Mariucci said he could have pulled it off like Tony Dungy had done coaching in Indianapolis all those years while his family remained in Florida.
Snyder wasn't completely on board.
"Dan said, 'Man, I really want you to be all in, be engraved in the community, and I just don't think you'll be able to do that without your family. Just think about it a little bit more,'" Hellie said of Mariucci's story.
Mariucci said the rest of the coaching staff was hired before Snyder offered him the position. That included Zorn, who was originally hired as the team's offensive coordinator. When Mariucci chose another path, Zorn was promoted.
Zorn's two-year tenure started off with a promising, bruising running game with Clinton Portis that helped Washington get off to a 6-2 start. An 8-8 finish that year and a 6-10 finish the following season saw Zorn relieved of his duties and former Broncos coach Mike Shanahan was hired. The rest is history.