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If NFL Coaches Were NASCAR Owners, Who Would Their Drivers Be?

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Joe Gibbs has proven that an NFL coach can make a seamless transition to being one of the best NASCAR team owners. If any current NFL coaches could make the jump to NASCAR, there are plenty of colorful NASCAR personalities they could match up with. If current NFL coaches started a NASCAR team, who would their ideal driver be?

  • For this list, we will use the head coaches for the NFL teams playing this weekend in the Conference Championship Games plus other prominent coaches in the league.
  • We will limit the coaches to only one driver, based on who would be the top driver and best fit for this fictional race team.
  • Many NASCAR fans also watch football, so, why not make a crossover between the two? Talk about a busy Sunday afternoon!

Andy Reid (Kansas City Chiefs): Kyle Larson

Andy Reid is arguably the best coach in the NFL today with the best quarterback in the NFL. It’s only natural to fit him with arguably the best driver in NASCAR today, Kyle Larson.

Reid is also an offensive-minded coach, who is okay with his players taking some risks, such as when he allowed backup quarterback Chad Henne to scramble for a first down in a Playoff game in 2021. Kyle Larson loves to push the envelope as well, and one example of this was his 3-wide move for the win at Michigan in 2017.

Both of these individuals are near the top of their respective sports, and they both got there by pushing the limits in some places. Imagine if Andy Reid could become the next Joe Gibbs. Kyle Larson would be quite the driver.

John Harbaugh (Baltimore Ravens): Chase Elliott

John Harbaugh comes from a football family, with his brother, Jim, recently winning a college football National Championship at Michigan. It’s fitting to pair him with Chase Elliott, the son of NASCAR Hall of Famer, Bill Elliott.

With tight family dynamics comes another quality, loyalty. John Harbaugh has been the head coach of the Baltimore Ravens since 2008, and he is often seen on the sidelines with his parents cheering his brother’s team on. Chase Elliott has stuck behind Hendrick Motorsports since he made his first NASCAR National Touring Series start in 2013.

Two individuals who care about family and are fiercely loyal to their employers. These two could partner well on a Cup Series team, that is if you can pry them away from where they are at right now.

Dan Campbell (Detroit Lions): Denny Hamlin

Dan Campbell is outspoken and aggressive, and he is unapologetic about both. Denny Hamlin is one of NASCAR’s most outspoken and aggressive drivers, and he has begun to take some boos from the fans as a result.

Dan Campbell burst onto the NFL scene by declaring, “We’re going to bite a kneecap off” in his introductory press conference. That quote has followed him ever since, and, he makes incredibly aggressive moves on the football field including going for it on fourth down and fake punts. Denny Hamlin has the same “No holds barred” attitude on the track, and he basks in the boos afterward.

Both individuals compete with a massive chip on their shoulders. They’re also okay with ruffling a few feathers along the way.

Kyle Shanahan (San Francisco 49ers): Ross Chastain

Kyle Shanahan is a younger head coach, but, he uses plenty of old-school tactics to win football games. Ross Chastain is also a newer driver to the Cup Series, but, he worked his way up the ladder the old-school way.

Kyle Shanahan came to the San Francisco 49ers as one of the bright young minds of the NFL, but, he does not win the way the modern NFL does. While most NFL teams rely on a superstar quarterback, Shanahan turns his trust to the last pick of the 2021 NFL Draft, Brock Purdy, with a focus on running the ball. Ross Chastain may have the modern charisma with moves like the “Hail Melon”, but, he worked his way to the Cup Series by overperforming in underfunded equipment, just like the old days.

Ross Chastain and Kyle Shanahan both blend youthful charisms with old-school tactics. It’s a strange mix that very few people can pull off, but, these two did.

Bill Belichick (Formerly New England Patriots): Martin Truex Jr.

Bill Belichick is a no-nonsense coach who prefers to let his actions on the field speak for themself. Martin Truex Jr. is the exact same way on the race track.

Bill Belichick is notorious for his bland press conferences and drab, hoodied appearance. However, he still finds ways to win because he lets his coaching on Sundays speak for itself. Martin Truex Jr. is the exact same way. You’ll rarely hear about Truex Jr. making snarky comments in the media, and, when he wins races, he usually quietly pulls away to lead a gargantuan amount of laps to win in dominating fashion.

Some may call Belichick and Truex Jr. boring, but, boring still wins. Ultimately, what matters is your results on the playing field or the race track. That is all either of these individuals care about.

Mike McDaniel (Miami Dolphins): Noah Gragson

Mike McDaniel is a young, hipster head coach in South Florida. Why not bring in one of NASCAR’s loosest and most boisterous personalities, Noah Gragson?

Mike McDaniel has had to deal with some big personalities as an NFL head coach. One example is Tyreek Hill, who left Kansas City and has enjoyed his two best seasons under McDaniel. Gragson needs someone who will allow him to be himself, but, there has to be enough of a leash to keep him under control. McDaniel has done that to arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL.

Both of these people are a little quirky, but, it works for them. Sometimes, pairing quirky with quirky ends up with success on the football field and on the race track.

Sean McVay (Los Angeles Rams): Ryan Blaney

Sean McVay is the face of the new school of the NFL, and he has a fairly big yet not too big of a personality. Ryan Blaney fits this mold perfectly. Blaney just won a Cup Series Championship in about the most modern way possible, and he is not afraid to show off his nerdy personality.

Sean McVay burst onto the NFL scene in 2018, taking the NFL’s newest Los Angeles franchise to a Super Bowl with a high-flying offense that fits the modern NFL perfectly. While McVay is confident, he is not arrogant, and he is okay with being himself. Blaney won the 2023 Cup Series Championship by dominating in the Playoffs, which is about as new school as you can get in NASCAR. He’s also not afraid to let his nerdiness shine, even though he is not exceptionally arrogant.

Both McVay and Blaney are successful in doing things the way that their modern sports normally do. It may be a bit quirky, but, it also wins Championships.

Which other NFL head coach/NASCAR driver combinations did we miss? Could someone already on the list be with a different head coach?

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