Texas Football: Kyle Shanahan's Journey to Super Bowl Head Coach Began on the Forty Acres

Chris Dukes

Back in 2001 Texas coach Mack Brown fielded a phone call from friend Mike Shanahan about his son, Kyle. 

The soon-to-be junior had two years of eligibility left in his college football career but wanted to get a jump start on what would come next. 

“Mike calls me up one day and says, ‘Kyle really wants to coach. He wants to really learn the ropes. Can he come out and play for you at Texas?’ ” Brown recalled to the Mercury News.

Shanahan would play for two seasons, gaining respect and even carving out a little playing time for himself amid a roster stacked with top-flight receiver talent. 

“I said sure. I thought I was doing Mike a favor," Brown said. But he wound up being a starter for us. From Day 1, he was a coach’s kid, a gym rat,” Brown said to the Mercury News. “If you wanted a 7-yard route, he would run exactly a 7-yard route. "

Shanahan's career on the Forty Acres didn't add up to much statistically, 14 catches for 127 yards and no touchdowns, but it did lead to valuable exposure to a legendary coach like Brown and lifelong friendships like the one he's developed with Chris Simms. 

A son of an NFL quarterback and a son of an NFL coach, respectively, Sims and Shanahan developed a special bond during their time together in Austin. In fact, each has the other's initials tattoed on their skin. 

“Chris was dying to get a tattoo,” Shanahan told the Houston Chronicle in 2006. “When we got to the (parlor), I was the only one who already didn’t have one. … I got one out of loyalty to my buddies.”

“One day, you’re gonna be going, ‘Man, that was a dumb moment when we went down there and got that done,” Phil Simms, now a CBS analyst, said he told his son according to the Washington Post. “Yes, I’ve seen it and it’s still there, and he’s got a picture of a Longhorn on his leg too. It is what it is. They are good friends. I know he respects Kyle tremendously as a coach.”

18 years after he played his last down with the Longhorns, Shanahan now has a chance to add a major legacy to the Forty Acres by becoming just the second Longhorn alumnus to win a Super Bowl as a head coach. 

A victory on Super Bowl Sunday would put him in rarified air with the great Tom Landry. 

Comments (1)
No. 1-1

I like his chances. Now we have someone to root for.