Coaching in professional sports is traditionally one of the most unstable jobs in America.
Every year, head coaches are fired before the end of their contracts due to poor performance by their teams.
This year was no different, whether it was the Jacksonville Jaguars firing Urban Meyer 13 games into a five-year deal or the Miami Dolphins canning Brian Flores after consecutive winning seasons. Black Monday is always wild across the NFL, but plenty of coaches have avoided a seemingly unavoidable fate year after year.
Here’s a look at the longest-tenured NFL coaches – both active and in league history:
Who are the longest-tenured active NFL head coaches?
The league is currently turning over coaches at a rapid rate. Of the 32 NFL franchises, 18 have hired their current coach in 2018 or later. Five others are looking for a new leader after Black Monday, and the Las Vegas Raiders have an interim coach in Rich Bisaccia leading them in the postseason.
Here are the nine coaches who have been with their team the longest:
- Bill Belichick, New England Patriots, 2000-present
Arguably the GOAT head coach, Belichick has guided the Pats to nine Super Bowl appearances and six titles in 22 seasons at the helm. He is third all-time with 290 career regular season wins while leading all coaches in playoff wins (31, 11 more than second place).
- Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints, 2006-present
Payton and Drew Brees transformed football in New Orleans when they arrived in 2006. They won one Super Bowl and had nine 10-win seasons in 14 years together. In 2021 without Brees, Payton led the Saints to a 9-8 record to bring his career tally to 152-89.
- Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers, 2007-present
After winning a Super Bowl in his second season, Tomlin has sustained consistency all the way through 2021. He’s never had a losing season in 15 years, making 10 postseason appearances. Tomlin’s career regular season record is 154-85-2 and he’s won eight playoff games.
- John Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens, 2008-present
This year marked Harbaugh’s second losing season in 14 years with Baltimore. He has a 137-88 career regular season record, plus an 11-8 postseason record to go along with a Super Bowl. The Ravens are 2-4 in the playoffs since hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in 2013.
- Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks, 2010-present
After stints with the Patriots, Jets and USC, Carroll returned to the NFL in 2010 and has stabilized the Seahawks franchise. They’ve never won fewer than seven games in a season with Carroll, totaling a 119-73-1 record in 12 seasons while winning Super Bowl XLVIII.
- Andy Reid, Kansas City Chiefs, 2013-present
Reid spent 14 consecutive seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, and now he is wrapping up his ninth straight in Kansas City. He’s been even better with the Chiefs, amassing a 103-42 record while paired with quarterbacks Alex Smith and Patrick Mahomes, the latter of which helped get Reid his first Super Bowl in 2020.
- Sean McDermott, Buffalo Bills, 2017-present
The Bills have been searching for stability at head coach, and they seem to have found it in McDermott. He has a 49-32 record and four postseason berths in five seasons with Buffalo, including last year winning its first playoff game since 1995.
- Sean McVay, Los Angeles Rams, 2017-present
McVay and Los Angeles have been a perfect match since the franchise made him the NFL’s youngest head coach in 2017. He is 55-26 in five seasons, and he led the Rams to a Super Bowl loss in just his second year. McVay is 3-3 in the postseason as he begins his fourth playoff run this weekend.
- Kyle Shanahan, San Francisco 49ers, 2017-present
Despite having just two winning seasons in five years with San Francisco, Shanahan is still discussed as one of the league’s best coaches. He has a 39-42 career record, and the 49ers made the Super Bowl in his lone playoff appearance. The 49ers will make another postseason run after going 10-7 in 2021.
Who are the longest-tenured head coaches in NFL history?
No active coaches can match the longest-tenured coaches in NFL history, though Belichick is creeping up the list. After his 22nd season with the Patriots, he is one season away from matching Chuck Noll for fifth on this list.
Here’s a look at the five coaches who spent the most consecutive seasons with one team:
- Tom Landry, Dallas Cowboys, 29 consecutive seasons
From 1960 to 1988, Landry patrolled the sidelines for the Cowboys. He had some highlights, with five Super Bowl appearances and two titles, and some lowlights, including six seasons of five wins or less. Landry went 250-162-6 in his career with Dallas.
- Curly Lambeau, Green Bay Packers, 29 consecutive seasons
Green Bay’s stadium is named for Lambeau, and rightfully so. His first nine seasons with the team were spent as both a player and a coach, winning a title in 1929. The next 20 seasons, solely serving as a coach, produced five championships. He finished his Packers career at 209-104-21.
- Don Shula, Miami Dolphins, 26 consecutive seasons
After losing Super Bowl III with the Baltimore Colts in 1968, Shula moved south to Miami in 1970 and didn’t leave for nearly three decades. He won three AFC titles and two Super Bowls in his first four years with the Dolphins. Shula retired in 1996 as the NFL’s all-time regular season wins leader (328), a record he still holds today.
- Steve Owen, New York Giants, 24 consecutive seasons
Owen’s first four seasons with the Giants were as a player-coach before he took over full-time coaching duties in 1934. That season went well, I’d say, as New York won the NFL championship. Owen retired in 1953 with a 153-100-17 career record and two titles.
- Chuck Noll, Pittsburgh Steelers, 23 consecutive seasons
Noll’s 23-year tenure in Pittsburgh spanned four decades – the 1960s, 70s, 80s and 90s. The 70s were undoubtedly his happiest decade, when the Steelers won four Super Bowls in six seasons from 1974 to 1979. Noll retired in 1991 after totaling a 193-148-1 regular season record with 16 postseason wins.