Nick Sirianni’s four years in Kansas City changed his life, and not just because that’s how a Jamestown, NY native who had been an assistant coach at a Division II school in western Pennsylvania broke into the NFL .
At the Sirianni apartment complex in the Kansas City area, she met a local teacher. Her name was Brett and she grew up in Springfield, Mo., which is the Chiefs’ turf.
His work with the Chiefs didn’t just help launch a career that took him to Philadelphia as the head coach of the Eagles. He also introduced him to his wife.
“‘When you first met me, you used the boss card,'” Brett likes to tell her husband.
“’Hey, it worked!’” Sirianni replies. “Whatever I had to do to get my wife.”
Nick Sirianni celebrated the NFC championship with his kids by making snow angels in confetti after party at the Linc pic.twitter.com/wbSX09JY7g
— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) January 30, 2023
There will be stories leading up to the Super Bowl about Chiefs head coach Andy Reid’s ties to Philadelphia. Reid was hired by the Eagles as head coach in 1999, spent 14 years with the team and won more games than any coach in franchise history. It’s a natural storyline, ripe for an audience growing to Super Bowl Sunday. But Sirianni also has a connection – and affection – for the city and the opposing organization.
When Siranni played wide receiver at Mount Union, he would come home to the Jamestown area during the summers and lift weights at the Lakewood Family YMCA. Todd Haley, who was then a wide receiver coach in the NFL, had a lake house nearby and also trained at the YMCA. He was introduced by Tom Anderson, the manager of the facility.
“So it all started with, well, ‘How do I become a better football player?’ That’s where I first met Todd,” Sirianni said. “Todd was very open to helping me, and I really admired him, that he would want to help me. wide receiver to do, some stuff’, talking through some routes and stuff like that.
Sirianni became a varsity coach after graduating, first at Mount Union and then at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP). Haley worked his way up the NFL coaching ladder, becoming an offensive coordinator and well on his way to leading a team. They would connect to the YMCA and Sirianni had Haley’s contact information.
“I laugh at it now, because I thought…he was talking to this guy and not working out,” Tom Langworthy, Sirianni’s best friend at home, said in a 2021 interview. “He knew what he was doing. … Yeah it turned out to be good enough for him.
In 2009, Haley was hired as the head coach at Kansas City. Jim Smith, an assistant fellow at IUP, recalls Sirianni sending Haley an email. Haley wrote back the next day, and they met at the Indianapolis combine in February 2009 for a QC coaching opening. This represented a major promotion for someone who was used to driving across the Pennsylvania Turnpike in a white Ford Taurus with a government blue tag to recruit the Philadelphia area. Sirianni prepared for the interview by studying the offensive protections.
“‘They’re hiring you as QC (coach) – they won’t want you to go in there and set up their protection!'” Smith told him. “‘They want to get to know you, they know you can work.'”
Nick Sirianni’s recruiting days in Philly: How the IUP job prepared him for the Eagles
Paul Tortorella, who was then the IUP defensive coordinator and is now the head coach, once Sirianni met with Haley, he learned that Sirianni would not be returning. Sirianni always nails the interview.
“He’s on his way now,” Tortorella said then. “He will go places.”
Haley brought Sirianni to Kansas City as the quality control coach, and the then 28-year-old Sirianni was a sponge. He listened carefully when Haley talked about Bill Parcells, developing an appreciation for situational football. During Sirianni’s first training camp, he sat in Haley’s meeting and marveled at a bulletin board with situations for the team to practice. It’s an emphasis that has become a hallmark of Sirianni’s training.
Haley quickly promoted Sirianni to assistant quarterbacks coach after one season. The Chiefs went 10-6 and made the playoffs. Sirianni worked with offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, who spent one season in Kansas City. Weis has worked with a succession of low-level assistants who became head coaches, and he’s seen Sirianni on that kind of track thanks to her engaging personality and ability to teach the fundamentals.
“Here’s what stood out: I didn’t have to teach twice,” Weis said in 2021. “Because one of the things when you have a young guy who’s doing things, some things you have to spend a lot of your time going back and fixing them or add to what they said. And usually, I was only allowed to worry about adding X’s and O’s, a game plan and patterns, and the thought process. I didn’t have to spend a lot of time tweaking fundamentals and techniques because he had pretty well covered.
The Chiefs regressed the following season and Haley was fired at the end of the year. In the first game after Haley’s dismissal, interim head coach Romeo Crennel set Sirianni to call passes. It was the first time that Sirianni assumed those responsibilities. The Chiefs upset the then undefeated Green Bay Packers, with quarterback Kyle Orton completing 23 of 31 pass attempts for 299 yards.
Crennel’s interim tag was removed for the 2012 season. He kept Sirianni and even promoted him to wide receivers coach. Brian Daboll has arrived as offensive coordinator, and Sirianni considers the current Giants coach one of his most important mentors. They took a scouting trip together to Appalachian State to watch wide receiver Brian Quick, and Sirianni picked Daboll’s brain as he drove through the North Carolina mountains.
“It was by no means a year that probably none of us would like to remember,” Sirianni said. “But the things I learned specifically about defensive football – obviously Brian was an offensive coordinator, but he taught me so many things about the defensive side of the ball that I know are significant to him and his development. … I always felt like he took me under his wing and said, ‘I’m really going to help this guy.’”
The Chiefs went 2-14 and the offense ranked last in scoring. The season included tragedy when linebacker Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend and took his own life in the team facility parking lot. The coaching staff was fired at the end of the season.
But Sirianni still looks back on that season as precious, especially for her time with Daboll.
“I was so impressed with how he handled himself, the material he knew. I say his energy, attitude and ability to deal with the players – and I saw it throughout the year” Daboll said about Sirianni. “I would say that it had an impact on me too. He was a coach fantastic. He was young, he had just started. But you could tell from the beginning because I spent a lot of time with him, I thought his arrow was pointing up. And fast.”
The Eagles also fired Reid after the 2012 season. He was unemployed for four days before taking the Chiefs job. Reid planned to bring Eagles longtime wide receivers coach David Culley with him to Kansas City. Still, he heard from those in the Chiefs’ building that Sirianni was a “special coach,” Reid told Kansas City media this week, and he took the time to meet with Sirianni even without a staff opening. It wasn’t a great get-to-know session—Sirianni learned the fate of him—but the meeting resonated with Sirianni almost a decade later.
“It was actually a great conversation I had with him,” Sirianni said in 2021. “And I really respected that he took the time to meet me, tell me what he had heard about me. … In fact, I thought about it when I had to do the same thing this year when I had to tell a guy I had a boyfriend here and handled the situation like Coach Reid did for me, because I always respected him .”
Sirianni got a job in San Diego with the Chargers in 2013 and Brett moved in with him. They got married that summer. The wedding party also included coaches and executives involved in this year’s Super Bowl: DK McDonald, an assistant with the Eagles, as best man; and Mike Borgonzi and Brandt Tilis, high-ranking members of the Kansas City front office, as ushers.
After Sirianni celebrated winning a Super Bowl berth on Sunday, he hosted family at his New Jersey home and watched the AFC Championship Game to get to know the Eagles’ opponent. Who among the family came? Her sister-in-law and her husband, who is from Kansas City.
“It’s not in conflict, though,” Sirianni said. “He’s a Kansas City Chiefs fan, but he also knows he comes to my house every Christmas, so now he’s rooting for us.”
The connection reveals how his time in Kansas City influenced him the most. He began his NFL coaching career there and would not have reached the pinnacle of his profession without it. But those four years changed his life for a different reason.
“Obviously meeting my wife there, it’s always going to be a special place for us because of that,” Sirianni said. “Then professionally, my first stint in the NFL. Obviously, it was really important either way. Kansas City is a great city. … When you have something as meaningful as meeting your wife there in that city, that place, that time frame, that city will always have a special place in my heart for that.
(Top photo: Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)