Retired NFL quarterback Josh McCown emerged as a wild-card entry into the Houston Texans’ head coaching search Thursday afternoon, interviewing for their vacancy after initially meeting with the team one year ago.
McCown, 42, holds strong head-coaching ambitions and multiple NFL teams, including the Philadelphia Eagles, expressed interest in hiring him previously as an offensive coordinator. McCown has previously coached only at the high school level, as quarterbacks coach for his son's team at Myers Park High School in Charlotte, N.C.
Several former teammates expressed support publicly and privately for McCown. The interview for the 18-year NFL player drew some criticism on social media a year ago because of McCown’s coaching inexperience.
However, the Texans also have interviewed former Pittsburgh Steelers Pro Bowl wide receiver Hines Ward, a special assistant to Florida Atlantic coach Willie Taggart and a receivers coach in addition to former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores, Los Angeles Chargers offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi and Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon in addition to requesting an interview with Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell.
McCown built a strong rapport with quarterback Deshaun Watson last season after the Texans signed the oldest practice squad player in NFL history to a two-year, $2.125 million contract in November off the Eagles’ roster. McCown impressed the Texans last season with his knowledge of the game and leadership skills, according to league sources not authorized to speak publicly.
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If hired, McCown, who grew up on a ranch in Jacksonville, Texas, would become the first player to go directly from playing to NFL head coach since former Eagles quarterback Norm Van Brocklin in 1961 with the Minnesota Vikings. Van Brocklin went 66-100-7 in 13 NFL seasons.
McCown, who has practically operated as a player-coach in recent years with how he mentors fellow quarterbacks, is regarded as a rising star in the coaching profession with many league sources characterizing it as a matter of when, not if, he ultimately becomes an NFL head coach. That time might not necessarily be now, though, as the Texans’ search remains active. But he is highly regarded by the organization and could potentially have a role on a coaching staff if he's not hired as the head coach.
McCown, a married father of four who originally retired in 2019, is known for his commitment to spending as much time as possible with family. He ended his retirement to join the Eagles and played in a playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks in relief of an injured Carson Wentz, before retiring again.
A former Arizona Cardinals third-round draft pick from Sam Houston State, McCown has played for a dozen NFL teams and has a varied background as a former starter, backup and practice squad member who’s also been out of football. McCown spoke openly about his interest in eventually trading his cleats for a clipboard when he joined the Texans.
“I believe so,” McCown said last year. “If you’d asked me that 10 years ago, I would’ve said no way, that’s not what I want to do at this level. My dream coming out of college had I not been able to play in the NFL was to coach high school football here in Texas. The longer I’ve been in this game and been around these guys, I see real value in being able to be a part of an organization and compete at the highest level.
“Whenever I finally take the cleats off, I definitely see that in the future. They (Texans) understand, as did the Eagles and kind of everybody else for the past four or five years of my career, that I’m definitely interested in that.”