He’s come a long way from his days as an Ohio high school coach.
On Monday, the day after the Tennessee Titans’ loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC championship, defensive coordinator Dean Pees announced his retirement.
It’s actually the second time he’s made such an announcement — Pees also retired after the 2017 season, when he was with the Baltimore Ravens. But when Mike Vrabel was hired as Titans head coach in 2018, he talked his former teacher out of retirement.
‘It just happened’
Pees is 70-years-old and has been coaching at some level since 1973, moving from high school to college in 1979 and college to the NFL in 2004.
But he said on Monday that initially he never had aspirations of coaching professional football.
“The honest truth is I wanted to be a high school football coach. That was the guys, along with my father, that I admired the most,” he said. “My dad never got to see me coach. He died the first year I became a high school coach; he passed away at 56 of a heart attack. ...That’s all I ever really wanted to be.
“I won’t say I didn’t have any desire — I’m happy; I’m a high school coach, this is great. One thing led to another, one thing led to another, another thing led to another, and it just happened. Would I have imagined I’d spend 16 years in the NFL as a defensive coordinator in these three places? Probably not in my wildest dreams.”
Pees began his NFL career in ‘04 as linebackers coach of the New England Patriots — he’d coached with Steve Belichick, Bill Belichick’s father, at Navy from 1987-89, the final three years of Steve’s 34-year career with the academy football team.
New England is where Pees met Vrabel.
In 2006, Pees was promoted to Patriots’ coordinator; in 2010, he joined the Ravens, first as linebackers coach and then coordinator. He’s one of only eight defensive coordinators to coach two different teams in a Super Bowl.
“Players love him. I’ve talked him out of retirement once; I didn’t have the heart to do it a second time,” Vrabel told media. “We’re lucky that he was here, that he chose to come here and be with us.”
Pees and his wife Melody, have six children and 11 grandchildren.
Two coaches to replace
Pees isn’t the only defensive coach Vrabel has to replace: on Monday, Kerry Coombs, who was the Titans’ secondary coach the last two years, was hired as defensive coordinator at Ohio State.
Coombs was the Buckeyes’ cornerbacks coach from 2012-2017.
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