When Anthony Lynn was introduced as the Los Angeles Chargers’ new head coach today, he remembered one of the most influential coaches he ever knew: Bill Walsh.
Walsh was a Hall of Fame coach for the 49ers and worked in the 49ers’ front office in 1996 when he contacted Lynn, a backup running back for the 49ers, and said they needed to talk.
“I remember the day when Bill Walsh came down to the locker room in 1996 and he grabbed me and he said, ‘We need to talk.’ And I said, ‘Oh, s–t, he’s about to cut me,'” Lynn said, perhaps not realizing his press conference was on live television.
But Walsh didn’t cut him. Walsh told him he had a better future in football than he realized.
“He goes, ‘No, I want to take you to lunch, I want to talk to you about something.’ He started talking to me about coaching. He said, ‘I’ve identified you as a coach in the National Football League and I want to tell you about my program for minority coaches.’ And we begin this talk about coaching, and I’d never thought about coaching before. But that’s where the seed was planted, from Coach Walsh. . . . From that moment on, every team meeting I sat in I started taking notes like a coach, I started preparing like a coach.”
Walsh realized that African-Americans were underrepresented on coaching staffs in the NFL at a time when few others were talking about it. The league now recognizes Walsh with the Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship, and coaches like Lynn recognize how Walsh helped pave the way for their career success.