JERSEY CITY, N.J.––Darrell Bevell would appear to be on the path toward becoming an NFL head coach in no small part due to the job he's done as offensive coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks this season, helping lead them to a berth in Super Bowl XLVIII.
Entering into professional football as an assistant with the Green Bay Packers back in 2000 under Mike Sherman, Bevell had no idea where his journey would take him.
"At my time when I was starting in Green Bay, I was just excited to be there, and that was a new door that had opened for me just being in the NFL," said Bevell.
Bevell's career arc began well before the Packers, however, gaining prominence in the state of Wisconsin for leading the Badgers to their first-ever victory in the Rose Bowl as their quarterback in 1994.
Known as a leader and game-manager, Bevell was a good college player but never had the upper-echelon talent to make it in the NFL. When his playing days were over, it didn't take long for Bevell to get into coaching, becoming an assistant at Westmar University in 1996, just one year after graduating from college.
Stints at Iowa State and Connecticut followed, and a mere five years after his time at Wisconsin ended, Bevell became an offensive assistant with the Packers.
By 2003, Bevell was promoted to quarterbacks coach and had the privilege of working with Brett Favre despite being a few months younger than the high-profile player he was coaching.
He remained with the Packers until 2005 when the Sherman era came to an end and was subsequently hired by the division rival Minnesota Vikings as their offensive coordinator under Brad Childress.
Bevell was eventually reunited with Favre in Minnesota, but that too came to an end when Childress was fired in 2010. He's been with the Seahawks ever since, being hired as part of Pete Carroll's coaching staff.
It didn't hurt that Bevell had a previous relationship with general manager John Schneider dating back to their time in Green Bay when Bevell was coaching and Schneider was a personnel executive.
"I'm definitely sure that he had a part in it," Bevell said of Schneider. "I know that Coach Carroll and him had conversed about it. I think there was other recommendations that helped me as well."
What's helped Bevell's stature has been the development of another Wisconsin college product, Russell Wilson, a young quarterback who's played beyond his years with the Seahawks.
And in fact, it was a decision about another player with Packers ties that played a significant role in Wilson's development.
The Seahawks had signed quarterback Matt Flynn in 2012 to a three-year, $26 million contract. Yet just months after selecting Wilson in the third round of the draft, Seattle surprisingly entrusted Wilson with the job over their multi-million dollar free agency investment.
"As we started to go through the process once we drafted him, we had a couple days where the other guys aren't there at the rookie minicamps, and you kind of got to see how he was performing," described Bevell. "And that's really when the question started to get asked, 'Hey, do we need to give this guy an opportunity?'
"And he had performed so well in that, that we felt like it was fair to (say), 'Okay, we're all about competition. Let's let him compete.' And as OTAs started to go longer, it became more and more evident that that might be the case."
Not long into training camp, Wilson was officially made the starter and has been ever since. A difficult decision had been made, but one that was made in the interests of putting the most competitive team on the field.
In spite of his short stature (standing just 5-11), Wilson has already become one of the premiere quarterbacks in the NFL, being named Rookie of the Year in 2012 and already a two-time Pro Bowler.
There's been some growing pains along the way, but in Year 2, Wilson has now led the Seahawks to an NFC Championship, and Bevell is gaining even more steam in the coaching ranks due to the team success.
Carroll on Wednesday also praised the job Bevell has done working in tandem with assistant head coach Tom Cable.
“It’s a great relationship," said Carroll. "Tom is the assistant head coach and speaks to the offense regularly––Darrell does as well––Darrell calls the plays, and the two of them work together with the entire staff to organize our plan each week. We’ve developed, really, a tremendous harmony on that side of the ball.
"Everybody trying to contribute the best that they have to offer to the effort, and those guys do a great job. Game day, they talk regularly about what’s going on, the adjustments and the adaptations, and that’s all I could ask for. They really fit together well, and they really complement each other very well.”
Bevell isn't sure if and when he'll get the call to become a head coach in the NFL, and it doesn't help that by qualifying for the Super Bowl, he's been unable to interview for such positions while some of the open coaching gigs have been filled weeks ago.
For the time being, the only thing Bevell is worried about is helping the Seahawks win the Super Bowl, as they prepare to face the Denver Broncos on Sunday.
"I'm ready for this challenge first," said Bevell. "This is a big week for us, and we're excited to make it to this point and have this opportunity, and somewhere down the line, that'll take care of itself."
Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor of Cheesehead TV's "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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