Longtime NFL coach Romeo Crennel announced his retirement from football on Monday.
The former Browns defensive coordinator and head coach was a mainstay of professional football over the course of his lengthy (more on that to come) career.
Crennel served as a head coach for 95 NFL games over the course of a career that began back in Ronald Reagan’s first term (1981).
Six Presidents and many teams later (more on that to come), Crennel is finally hanging up the clipboard.
Here are three things to know about the former Browns coach:
1. Oldest Head Coach In History
The last head coaching gig Crennel received was not a permanent one.
Back in October 2020, the Houston Texans fired Bill O’Brien after an 0-4 start to the season.
In O’Brien’s place, the Texans elevated Crennel to interim head coach.
The following weekend, in a win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Crennel became the oldest head coach in NFL history.
Crennel took the honors from former Chicago Bears owner and coach George Halas, a pioneer of football from the 1920s to the 1960s.
Like Halas, Crennel’s career in the NFL spanned some four decades.
Crennel also has the honor of being the first Black head coach in Texans history and the first non-interim Black head coach in Browns history.
2. Coaching Tree of Knowledge
Crennel was coaching in the NFL back in the 80s.
Meaning he’s had the chance to work with some of pro football’s legends.
Including two of the most prolific head coaches in NFL history: Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick.
Crennel was an assistant to Parcells with the Patriots, Jets, and Giants.
He served under Belichick from 2001 to 2004 with the Patriots.
You might think Crennel learned a thing or two about being a head coach from the Big Bills.
Not so much.
In his 95-game career as head coach, Crennel went 32-63, or .337.
But Crennel was an excellent assistant coach.
With the Texans, Crennel developed the league’s best defense in the 2019-20 season.
In addition, Crennel appeared in five Super Bowls, all as an assistant.
Also to his credit, Crennel has established his own coaching tree.
Two current head coaches, Nick Sirriani of the Eagles and Brian Daboll of the Giants, worked under Crennel.
I was a huge Romeo Crennel fan and wanted it to work out with him so bad when he was in Cleveland. Used to listen to his weekly radio interview and he was such a likable guy, I couldn't help but root for him. Wishing him well in retirement.
— Ken Carman (@KenCarman) June 6, 2022
In his first season in Philadelphia, Sirriani took an expected rebuilding Eagles team to the playoffs.
And Brian Daboll had no shortage of suitors after developing an electric offense in Buffalo.
Oh and don’t forget Michigan State’s Mel Tucker, who led the Spartans to a strong season in 2021.
So it seems Crennel has left the league in a better place than he found it.
3. Coaching The Browns Was His Peak
Despite all that experience, Crennel’s head coaching peak actually came with the Cleveland Browns.
It was the only time in his career that Crennel led a team to more than seven wins.
Coincidentally, it was also something of Cleveland’s peak for over a decade.
In 2007, Crennel led Cleveland to a 10-6 record, good enough for second in the AFC North.
It was the last time Browns fans would taste a .500 or better record for some time.
The following season, 2008-09, Crennel’s Browns went a weak 4-12 (he was fired).
Then, over the next 11 seasons, the Browns would win more than six games just twice (2014-15; 2018-19).
The nadir came in a two-year stretch between 2016-17 and 2017-18, where the Browns won a combined one game.
But hey, at least they were able to draft a quarterback to lead them out of the funk.
Yes and no.
They did draft Baker Mayfield, who inaugurated the most successful Browns run since Crennel’s 10-6 season.
But the team is now trying to cut bait with Mayfield after trading for Deshaun Watson.
Love Romeo Crennel. Everything that is good about coaching. Congrats on a tremendous career. https://t.co/lBhZB1nD1W
— Dan Roche (@RochieWBZ) June 7, 2022
And Mayfield was one of a number of quarterbacks the Browns brought in to change the losing ways.
But before the latest iteration of the Browns, Crennel was the team’s peak.
It just so happened to also be a professional peak.