Eight former Alabama football players will be on National Football League coaching staffs when the NFL season opens this week. That’s in addition to the 54 current players on 28 NFL teams.
John Mitchell, who played defensive end in the early 1970s, enters his 25th year on the staff of the Pittsburgh Steelers as assistant head coach.
Mike Shula is offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach with the New York Giants. Shula played quarterback for the Crimson Tide from 1984-86 and served as head coach from 2003-06.
Shula is joined on the Giants staff by Deshea Townsend, who is assistant defensive backs coach. Townsend was a cornerback at UA from 1994-97.
The Cleveland Browns have three former Crimson Tide players coaching: Amos Jones is special teams coordinator; Freddie Kitchens is associate head coach and running backs coach; and Sam Shade is assistant special teams coach.
Jones, from Aliceville, played running back and wide receiver at UA from 1978-80 and served as a graduate assistant in 1981-82 before returning to coach special teams in 1990-91. Kitchens played quarterback from 1993-97. Shade played defensive back at UA from 1991-94.
DeMeco Ryans coaches inside linebackers for the San Francisco 49ers. Ryans played linebacker for the Crimson Tide from 2002-05.
Lance Taylor, who was a wideout at UA from 1999-2003, is wide receivers coach for the Carolina Panthers.