A pair of rookie NFL head coaches are set to meet Sunday when the Arizona Cardinals and Cincinnati Bengals face off at Paul Brown Stadium.
Kliff Kingsbury and Zac Taylor aren’t entirely unfamiliar, however. The pair were once teammates with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers back in 2007.
“Really, we just tried to survive the weather,” Taylor said during a conference call with Arizona reporters. “That and just show up the next day and hope that the other players were able to lead us to a Grey Cup championship because believe me, neither one of us contributed a thing.”
Kingsbury and Taylor were with the Blue Bombers when Kevin Glenn broke his arm in the 2007 East Final, which allowed both men to dress behind Ryan Dinwiddie in the Grey Cup. Dinwiddie has also made a successful transition to coaching, currently in his fourth year as the Calgary Stampeders’ quarterbacks coach.
“We were both very cold,” Taylor said. “We were from Oklahoma and Texas, and we were in Winnipeg, Manitoba in November. We threw practice squad reps with ski gloves on and hooded sweatshirts over our ears, and it was more about survival than trying to impress anybody with our arms at that point.”
Taylor is one of the youngest head coaches in the NFL at age 36 with Kingsbury not far behind at 40.
“We shared this little love seat in the quarterback meeting room,” Taylor said of his memories with Kingsbury. “We met in the coach’s office and there was a two-person love seat and three of us had to cram on there every day.
“The CFL work day is a four-hour work day so we were there 8 to noon, and then 12:30 we’d go next door and watch whatever movie was on, then really survive the weather and show up the next day.”
Kingsbury spent the past six years as the head coach at Texas Tech, posting a 35-40 record. Taylor, meanwhile, had no prior head coaching experience prior to joining the Bengals. He spent last season as the quarterbacks coach with the Los Angeles Rams.
Kingsbury’s Cardinals are off to an 0-3-1 start this season, while Taylor’s Bengals are 0-4.