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Bill Callahan, the Redskins’ new offensive line coach, has quite a football history, and it’s not all coaching.
Growing up in Chicago’s south side, Callahan attended Mendel Catholic High School as a prepster, and he started at quarterback.
That transferred over to NAIA Benedictine (now Benedictine University in Illinois) and started three years at quarterback, earning honorable-mention All-American honors in his last two years. He earned a bachelor of arts degree in 1978, majoring in physical education.
He was inducted into the Benedictine University Athletics Hall of Fame in 2004.
“He reminded me of Fran Tarkenton,” Callahan’s football coach John Ostrowski told the Chicago Tribune. “Once he got a chance to start, man, did the leader come out in him.
“Also–I remember like it was yesterday–when his last season at Benedictine was ending, he said he wanted to coach.”
In the same article, Callahan’s former teacher and football coach at Mendel Catholic, Reverend Richard McGrath, commented on his student’s character.
“He was a hard-working, determined young man who knew what he wanted,” he said. “He did not have the greatest physical skills, but he had the determination to compensate for that.”
Callahan began his coaching career at two prep schools, Oak Lawn High School in 1978 and then De La Salle in 1979, where he also served as an instructor.
He graduated coaching into the college ranks at Illinois for six years and then migrated to Northern Arizona, Southern Illinois and Wisconsin for four years. After a stint in the NFL with the Eagles and the Raiders, which included a Super Bowl appearance against Tampa Bay, Callahan signed on as head coach with Nebraska.
Below is a video of his introduction to Nebraska fans as part of the Husker Nation Tour. Cut to about 2:20 to see him rile up the crowd answer some questions.
Callahan returned to the NFL in 2008 as an assistant head coach with the Jets and eventually moved to the Cowboys in 2012.
Callahan’s first year in New York did wonders for three Jets offensive linemen; center Nick Mangold, guard Alan Faneca and tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson were named to the Pro Bowl. All three repeated in 2009.
With Callahan’s leadership, the Jets broke the franchise record in 2009 by gaining 2,756 yards on the ground through 16 regular season games and led the league in rushing, averaging 4.5-yard per attempt.
As Callahan takes over the Redskins’ O-line, he’ll be looking for similar results.
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