Jack Del Rio

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Jack Del Rio
Color photograph of white man wearing a blue suit.
Del Rio in 2021
Personal information
Born: (1963-04-04) April 4, 1963 (age 61)
Castro Valley, California, U.S.
Height:6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)
Weight:246 lb (112 kg)
Career information
High school:Hayward (Hayward, California)
NFL draft:1985 / Round: 3 / Pick: 68
Career history
As a player:
 * Offseason and/or practice squad member only
As a coach:
Career highlights and awards
As player
As coach
Career NFL statistics
Games played:106
Forced fumbles:12
Head coaching record
Regular season:93–94 (.497)
Postseason:1–3 (.250)
Career:94–97 (.492)
Player stats at NFL.com · PFR
Coaching stats at PFR

Jack Louis Del Rio Jr. (born April 4, 1963) is an American football coach and a former professional linebacker. He played college football as a linebacker at the University of Southern California before being drafted by the New Orleans Saints in the third round of the 1985 NFL Draft. He also played for four other NFL teams before retiring in 1996.

Del Rio began his coaching career as an assistant with the Saints in 1997. He then joined the Baltimore Ravens as a linebacker coach in 1999, where he was a part of their Super Bowl XXXV winning team that beat the New York Giants. Following a single-season stint as Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator, Del Rio became head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2003. He compiled a 68–71 record and two playoff appearances with them before being fired after the 2011 season.

Del Rio served as Denver Broncos defensive coordinator for the next three seasons before becoming head coach of the Oakland Raiders in 2015. He compiled a 25–23 record with the Raiders before being fired after the 2017 season. He spent the next two years working as an NFL analyst for ESPN and served as Washington Commanders defensive coordinator from 2020 until being fired mid-way through the 2023 season.

Early years[edit]

Jack Louis Del Rio Jr. was born in Castro Valley, California, to big bandleader Jack Del Rio Sr., who was of Spanish descent, and an Italian-American mother. Famed singer Peggy Lee was briefly Del Rio's stepmother after having married Jack Sr. [1] Del Rio attended Hayward High School in Hayward, California, where he developed into a notable three-sport athlete, earning all-state honors in football, baseball, and basketball.[2]

In football, Del Rio helped his team win a North Coast Section 2A Championship. In baseball, although he was the starting catcher, in one game Jack was used as a pitcher and struck out 16 in a playoff game against Mission San Jose-Fremont. Jack and future Seattle Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu were teammates in baseball and football.[3]

College career[edit]

Del Rio was selected out of high school by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 22nd round (550th overall) of the 1981 MLB Draft,[4] but opted instead to accept a scholarship from the University of Southern California to play both football and baseball.[5] In baseball, Del Rio was as a two-year starter at catcher on a team that also included future Major League Baseball players Mark McGwire and Randy Johnson,[5] as well as future baseball executive Damon Oppenheimer.

Del Rio was a four-year starter in football. As a junior, he made the third-team 1983 All-American team. As a senior, Del Rio earned consensus All-American honors, was a runner-up for the Lombardi Award given to the nation's best lineman or linebacker, and was named along with quarterback Tim Green co-MVP of the Rose Bowl. He finished his college career with 340 tackles, including 58 tackles for loss. Del Rio was named to the second-team All-Pac-10 in 1984, the first time in his college career he did not make first-team.

Professional career[edit]

New Orleans Saints[edit]

Del Rio was selected by the New Orleans Saints in the third round (68th overall) of the 1985 NFL Draft.[6][7] He was also selected by the Los Angeles Express in the 1985 USFL Territorial Draft. As a rookie, Jack started nine games at right inside linebacker, tied a franchise record with five fumble recoveries (including one returned for a 22-yard touchdown) and earned NFL All-rookie honors. Del Rio also collected 68 tackles, five passes defensed and three forced fumbles. In 1986, Del Rio lost his starting position to Alvin Toles after the season opener and recorded only 20 tackles during the season.

Kansas City Chiefs[edit]

In August 1987, Del Rio was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for a fifth round draft choice,[8] reuniting him with former Saints defensive coordinator John Paul Young. He started nine games at right outside linebacker, tallying 45 tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble.

That season the NFL players went on strike in September, after week two. Throughout this period of time, Del Rio and teammates picketed outside of Arrowhead Stadium and were vigilantly watching for replacement players attempting to enter the facility. He mistakenly mistook former Chiefs wide receiver Otis Taylor for a replacement player and assaulted him. At the time, the 45-year-old Taylor was a scout for the Chiefs organization and had been retired for twelve years. Taylor later pressed charges and the two eventually settled out of court.[9]

Del Rio started ten games at left outside linebacker in 1988, registering 77 tackles, one sack, and one pass defensed. He was released on August 29, 1989.[10]

Dallas Cowboys[edit]

On August 30, 1989, Del Rio was claimed off waivers by the Dallas Cowboys.[11] He was named the starter at strongside linebacker in the fifth game against the Green Bay Packers, where he suffered a bruised calf that forced him to miss the next two games. Del Rio started twelve contests at strongside linebacker, while sharing the position with David Howard in the final eight games, playing in the first and third quarters, finishing the season with 58 tackles, two fumble recoveries (including one returned for a 57-yard touchdown) and one pass defensed.

The next year, Del Rio started all sixteen games at strongside linebacker, making 104 tackles (third on the team), 1.5 sacks, four quarterback pressures and two passes defensed. In 1991, Del Rio replaced Eugene Lockhart as the starter at middle linebacker, while leading the team with 130 total tackles, 53 assists and 77 solo tackles.[12]

In the 1990s, the Cowboys organization felt they could avoid paying a premium and adversely impacting the salary cap by drafting linebackers, so they allowed players like Del Rio, Ken Norton Jr., Darrin Smith, Dixon Edwards, Robert Jones, and Randall Godfrey to leave via free agency.[13]

Minnesota Vikings[edit]

Del Rio with the Vikings (1990s)

On March 4, 1992, Del Rio signed with the Minnesota Vikings as a free agent. He led the team in tackles for three consecutive years and was selected to the 1995 Pro Bowl.[14][15] In 1995, Del Rio suffered a knee injury in a game against the Chicago Bears and only played one more game that season, which would prove to be the last of his career.

Miami Dolphins[edit]

On June 2, 1996, Del Rio signed a one-year contract with the Miami Dolphins, reuniting him with former Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson.[16] On August 4, he was released after being passed on the depth chart by rookie Zach Thomas.[17] Del Rio finished his career with 160 game appearances (128 starts), 1,005 tackles, 13 sacks, and 13 interceptions.[18][a]

NFL career statistics[edit]

Year Team Games Tackles Interceptions Fumbles
GP GS Cmb Solo Ast Sck PD Int Yds TD FF FR TD
1985 NO 16 9 68 0 0 0.0 0 2 13 0 3 5 1
1986 NO 16 1 20 0 0 0.0 0 0 0 0 3 0 0
1987 KC 10 7 44 0 0 3.0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0
1988 KC 15 10 77 0 0 1.0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0
1989 DAL 14 12 58 0 0 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 2 1
1990 DAL 16 16 104 0 0 1.5 0 0 0 0 1 0 0
1991 DAL 16 16 130 0 0 0.0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0
1992 MIN 16 16 153 0 0 2.0 0 2 92 1 1 2 0
1993 MIN 16 16 169 0 0 0.5 0 4 3 0 1 0 0
1994 MIN 16 16 129 86 43 2.0 0 3 5 0 1 2 0
1995 MIN 9 9 53 32 21 3.0 0 1 15 0 0 1 0
Total[18] 160 128 1,005 118 64 13.0 0 13 128 1 12 14 2

Coaching career[edit]

Del Rio was hired by New Orleans Saints head coach Mike Ditka as the team's strength and conditioning coach in 1997, moving to linebacker coach the next year. In 1999, he took the same job with the Baltimore Ravens. Del Rio is, in part, credited for the success of the Ravens' Super Bowl-winning defense, particularly in the 2000 season. After the 2001 season, he was named defensive coordinator of the Carolina Panthers and in his first season, in 2002, Del Rio led them to the second ranked defense in the league by total yards.

Jacksonville Jaguars[edit]

Del Rio in 2008 as head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars

In 2003, Del Rio became the second head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars following Tom Coughlin's dismissal. In his first season, he led the team to a 5–11 record. That year, Jacksonville finished the season with the second-ranked rush defense and sixth best overall defense, having ranked 25th and 20th in those two categories, respectively, the year prior. In 2004, the Jaguars narrowly missed the playoffs with a 9–7 record, the first winning record in five seasons. The following season, the team made the playoffs for the first time since advancing all the way to the AFC title game in 1999. They qualified as a wild card; however, the season was ended with a 28–3 loss to the New England Patriots.

The mantra "keep chopping wood", introduced by Del Rio during the season, was intended to indicate how the team would slowly whittle away the huge obstacles in front of them. Del Rio placed a wooden stump and axe in the Jaguars' locker room as a symbol of his rallying cry. After his teammates had been taking swings at the wood with the axe, punter Chris Hanson followed suit and seriously wounded his non-kicking foot. Hanson missed the remainder of the 2003 season, being replaced by Mark Royals.[21]

After missing the playoffs in 2006, Jacksonville cut quarterback Byron Leftwich in favor of David Garrard. The team returned to the playoffs in 2007 winning their first playoff game since 1999.[22] On April 3, 2008, Del Rio's contract with the Jaguars was extended through the 2012 season.[23]

On January 11, 2010, Del Rio was offered the head coaching job at USC, his alma mater. The next day he denied receiving an offer from USC, stating that the offer was "manufactured".[24] Later that afternoon, he rebuffed USC officially, announcing that he would remain with the Jaguars at least through the duration of his current contract.[25]

On November 29, 2011, Del Rio was fired as Jacksonville's head coach. He left with a regular season record of 68–71 and a 1–2 record in two playoff appearances over his nine years. From his years with the Jaguars, Del Rio holds the NFL record for the longest tenure of any head coach to have never won a division title.[22]

Denver Broncos[edit]

On January 27, 2012, Del Rio was hired as the new defensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos. In Week 2, Del Rio was fined $25,000 for berating the replacement officials.[26] On November 4, 2013, Del Rio was handed the head coaching duties and named interim head coach for several games when head coach John Fox was sidelined due to medical reasons.[27]

Oakland Raiders[edit]

On January 14, 2015, Del Rio was hired to become the new head coach of the Oakland Raiders, replacing the fired Dennis Allen (who coincidentally had preceded him as the Broncos defensive coordinator) and interim head coach Tony Sparano.[28]

In 2016, Del Rio led the Raiders to a 12–4 record, with the team making the playoffs for the first time since 2002. They lost to the Houston Texans in the wild card round.

On February 10, 2017, Del Rio signed a four-year contract extension.[29] Del Rio was fired after the Raiders' 30–10 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers in the 2017 regular season finale, ending with a 6–10 record.[30]

In 2019, he was under consideration to become the defensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals, but talks ultimately ended after new head coach Zac Taylor decided he was not a fit.[31]

Washington Football Team / Commanders[edit]

On January 2, 2020, Del Rio was hired by the Washington Football Team to serve as their defensive coordinator under head coach Ron Rivera.[32] Del Rio changed their defensive scheme from a 3-4, which the team had used for the past decade, to a 4-3.[33]

In June 2022, Del Rio made a controversial comment on his personal Twitter account where he referred the Capitol attack as a "dust up" and compared the storming of the Capitol to overturn official election results to the unrest that occurred during some of the 2020 George Floyd protests.[34][2] In response to his comments the Washington Commanders fined Del Rio for $100,000 along with head coach Ron Rivera publicly stating Del Rio's views are not a reflection of the team.[35] Del Rio was fired in November 2023 following a 45-10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving, in which the team had allowed the most points in the NFL by that point in the season.[36]

Head coaching record[edit]

Team Year Regular season Postseason
Won Lost Ties Win% Finish Won Lost Win % Result
JAX 2003 5 11 0 .313 3rd in AFC South
JAX 2004 9 7 0 .563 2nd in AFC South
JAX 2005 12 4 0 .750 2nd in AFC South 0 1 .000 Lost to New England Patriots in AFC Wild Card Game
JAX 2006 8 8 0 .500 3rd in AFC South
JAX 2007 11 5 0 .688 2nd in AFC South 1 1 .500 Lost to New England Patriots in AFC Divisional Game
JAX 2008 5 11 0 .313 4th in AFC South
JAX 2009 7 9 0 .438 4th in AFC South
JAX 2010 8 8 0 .500 2nd in AFC South
JAX 2011 3 8 0 .273 Fired
JAX total 68 71 0 .489 1 2 .333
OAK 2015 7 9 0 .438 3rd in AFC West
OAK 2016 12 4 0 .750 2nd in AFC West 0 1 .000 Lost to Houston Texans in AFC Wild Card Game
OAK 2017 6 10 0 .375 3rd in AFC West
OAK total 25 23 0 .521 0 1 .000
Total 93 94 0 .497 1 3 .250

Awards and honors[edit]

Personal life[edit]

Del Rio with his son Luke, 2020

Del Rio earned an undergraduate degree in political science from the University of Kansas in 1990 while he was a player for the Kansas City Chiefs.[40] In 2015, Del Rio was inducted into the USC Athletic Hall of Fame.[37] In 2019, Del Rio worked as an analyst for ESPN.[41] His son, Luke, was a college football quarterback for the Florida Gators in the mid 2010s and is an offensive analyst for the Washington Huskies.[42]


  1. ^ Some sources say he recorded 1,078 tackles and 12 sacks[19][20]


  1. ^ Paige, Woody (August 24, 2014). "Paige: D-coordinator Jack Del Rio "made right choice" with Broncos". Denver Post. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
  2. ^ a b Tafur, Vic (January 24, 2015). "Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio still hero in Hayward". SFGate.com. Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  3. ^ "Perseverance helps get Don Wakamatsu his first job as M's manager with Alvin Davis' approval". The Seattle Times. November 19, 2008. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
  4. ^ "Jack Del Rio Career Stats Leagues Statistics & History - Baseball-Reference.com". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  5. ^ a b "Fast Facts About Head Coach Del Rio". Raiders.com. Retrieved January 23, 2021.
  6. ^ "1985 NFL Draft Listing". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved October 9, 2023.
  7. ^ "It's a Long Wait for USC's Jack Louis Del Rio; Jack Isn't Picked Until Third Round". Los Angeles Times. May 1985. Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  8. ^ "Del Rio Deal Boosts Chiefs Defense". Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  9. ^ "30 years ago this week, Kansas City Chiefs players were center stage for NFL drama". fox4kc.com. September 28, 2017. Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  10. ^ "Chiefs pick up 'Little Train'". Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  11. ^ "Transactions". Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  12. ^ "Del Rio's Departure Leaves Dallas "D" Thin in Middle". Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  13. ^ "Cowboys sign LB Nguyen to six-year deal". Plainview Herald. April 16, 2002. Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  14. ^ "Cowboys' Williams Honored". Retrieved February 19, 2016.
  15. ^ "Del Rio named to Pro Bowl squad". Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  16. ^ "Dolphins sign Del Rio, re-sign Kosar". Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  17. ^ "Cut By Dolphins, Del Rio Retiring". Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  18. ^ a b "Jack Del Rio". pro-football-reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  19. ^ "Jack Del Rio, Zach Thomas Forever Linked". The Oklahoman. Associated Press. December 3, 2006. Archived from the original on September 7, 2017. Retrieved February 19, 2018.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  20. ^ "NCAA Names Six Former Student-Athletes as Recipients of the 2010 Silver Anniversary Award". fs.ncaa.org. November 20, 2009. Archived from the original on September 7, 2017. Retrieved February 19, 2018.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  21. ^ "Locker room prop costs Jaguars their punter". ESPN. Retrieved June 29, 2018.
  22. ^ a b Mike Florio (November 29, 2011). "Del Rio out in Jacksonville". profootballtalk.nbcsports.com. NBC Sports. Retrieved June 29, 2018.
  23. ^ "Jack Del Rio bet on himself and won with new contract extension". NBC Sports. Retrieved June 29, 2018.
  24. ^ "Del Rio: Report of offer 'manufactured'". ESPN. January 12, 2010. Retrieved June 29, 2018.
  25. ^ "Del Rio: Report of offer 'manufactured'". ESPN. Retrieved June 29, 2018.
  26. ^ Jones, Lindsay (January 27, 2012). "Jack Del Rio hired as defensive coordinator for Denver Broncos". The Denver Post. Retrieved January 27, 2018.
  27. ^ Sessler, Marc (November 4, 2013). "Jack Del Rio tabbed Denver Broncos' interim coach". NFL.com. Retrieved January 15, 2018.
  28. ^ Bair, Scott (January 14, 2015). "Raiders get their man, agree to terms with Jack Del Rio". Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. Archived from the original on January 18, 2015.
  29. ^ Wire, SI (February 10, 2017). "Jack Del Rio signs four-year contract extension".
  30. ^ "Oakland Raiders fire head coach Jack Del Rio". NFL. Retrieved January 1, 2018.
  31. ^ Marcum, Jason (February 14, 2019). "Bengals passed on Jack Del Rio after he reportedly wanted job". CincyJungle.com. SB Nation. Retrieved January 2, 2020.
  32. ^ "Redskins Name Jack Del Rio As Defensive Coordinator". Redskins.com. January 2, 2020.
  33. ^ Carpenter, Les. "Jack Del Rio to become defensive coordinator, will switch to a 4-3 scheme". Washington Post. Retrieved January 1, 2020.
  34. ^ Reyes, Lorenzo (June 8, 2022). "Washington Commanders DC Jack Del Rio apologizes for calling Jan. 6 Capitol attack a 'dust-up'". USAToday.com. Retrieved June 11, 2022.
  35. ^ Patra, Kevin (June 10, 2022). "Commanders DC Jack Del Rio deletes Twitter account a day after being fined $100K for comments on Capitol riots". NFL.com. Retrieved June 11, 2022.
  36. ^ Patra, Kevin. "Commanders fire defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio in wake of blowout loss to Cowboys". NFL.com. Retrieved November 24, 2023.
  37. ^ a b "Pete Carroll, Jack Del Rio selected to USC Athletic Hall of Fame". NFL.com. Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  38. ^ "All-Time Honors Award Winners". Retrieved June 27, 2022.
  39. ^ "Rose Bowl Most Valuable Player Award (MVP)". Archived from the original on July 24, 2008. Retrieved January 15, 2015.
  40. ^ Garfield, David. "NFL success, KU degree among Del Rio's rewards," KU Alumni magazine, Issue 5, 2007, page 55.
  41. ^ "Ex-Raiders, Jags coach Del Rio joins ESPN". ESPN. Associated Press. August 15, 2019. Retrieved January 5, 2020.
  42. ^ "Jack Del Rio's son chosen as Florida's starting quarterback".

External links[edit]