All of it seems preordained after the fact. Of course Doug Pederson was going to become a Super Bowl champion head coach. Type his name into Google right now and you get three stories crediting the Eagles’ Super Bowl win to Pederson’s daring genius.
Pederson is the NFL’s darling of coaching, an offensive guru with the stones to call a trick play on 4th-and-1 at the goal line.
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) February 5, 2018
But Pederson was no one’s golden child.
A native of Washington state, Pederson ended up at Northeast Louisiana — now known as Louisiana-Monroe — where he set multiple records but did not get selected in the 1991 NFL draft. Still, Pederson latched on to the Miami Dolphins’ practice squad and eventually built himself a decent career, lasting a dozen seasons and carving his little mark into NFL lore. Pederson quarterbacked the Dolphins to Don Shula’s record-breaking 325th win, and he served as the holder on the infamous field goal that led to Leon Lett’s famous blunder in the 1993 snow-covered Thanksgiving game. He was far from a star, though, winning three of his 17 starts and tossing more interceptions (19) than touchdowns (12) in 100 career games.
Pederson spent the 2001-04 seasons as Brett Favre’s backup with the Green Bay Packers, but was squeezed out of a roster spot when the club drafted Aaron Rodgers in the first round of the ’05 draft.
At 37, Pederson left the league and jumped into coaching at Calvary Baptist Academy in Shreveport, La. He took over a 2-year-old program that didn’t have its own stadium or weight room, yet within three seasons he had the Cavaliers in the Louisiana state semifinals.
“(My time at Calvary) gave me an opportunity to teach football; to see if that’s what I wanted to do with my career,” Pederson told the Shreveport Times. “Ultimately, it got me back in the National Football League. It’s shaped me, molded the way I think and the way I handle our business on a daily basis.”
Pederson could have carved a nice life for himself as a high school coach with a decade of NFL earnings, but, after four years at Calvary, instead buried himself in the NFL’s coaching basement. At 43, he became an offensive quality control assistant with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2009. But Pederson was smart in whose basement he chose to reside. Pederson was a quarterback on Andy Reid’s first Philadelphia Eagles team in 2009, then joined his staff a decade later.
This would prove to be Pederson’s big break.
Reid has created and revived many a quarterback’s career — future Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles, after a year with the St. Louis Rams, decided he would quit football if he couldn’t play for Reid again in 2016 — and did the same to Pederson’s coaching career. Pederson was promoted to quarterbacks coach in 2011 and then, when Reid was fired in 2012, followed him to Kansas City in 2013 as offensive coordinator.
Pederson remained there for three seasons before landing the Eagles job in 2016 — the Eagles fired Reid to hire Chip Kelly, then turned to a Reid disciple to replace Kelly — and went 7-9 in his debut. But a rebuilt roster took the year by storm in 2017, absorbing the loss of franchise quarterback Carson Wentz to ride another Reid University alum in Foles to the club’s first Super Bowl win. Pederson on Sunday became the second coach to beat Bill Belichick on the game’s biggest stage. (Tom Coughlin did it twice with the Giants.)
Doug Pederson is the first person to beat Belichick as a starting QB and a head coach. Pederson beat Belichick as a starting QB in 2000 with the Browns. pic.twitter.com/n9nLxfkgBD
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 5, 2018
None of it was preordained, and none of it would’ve happened if Pederson hadn’t bet on himself to take a low-man-on-the-totem-poll job at age 43. Four days after his 50th birthday, Pederson was a Super Bowl champion.