The life of a football coach is a winding journey, with humble beginnings, ups and downs and lots of moving with job changes. Detroit Lions special teams coach Dave Fipp started his journey in 1998 at Holy Cross, and Sunday's NFC Championship Game will be a moment where things come full circle for him.
Stay with me here, as Fipp explained to the media this week (h/t to Tony Paul of the Detroit News).
FIpp was a graduate assistant Arizona, his alma mater, in 2000. A head coaching change came after that season, to John Makovic, who had his own GA ready to join him-Jeff Rodgers.
Arizona defensive coordinator Rich Ellerson left to become the head coach at Cal Poly, and Fipp joined him to become the secondary coach. As Fipp relayed, Rodgers called him.
"The guy who took my job at Arizona," Fipp said Thursday, ahead of the Lions' NFC Championship showdown against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night. "He says, 'I got a question ... you did these forms and something with the video. Can you help me out?'
"I'm kind of like, 'You just took my job."
But, as Fipp finished the story, he said he had a bit of a revelation.
"I'm like, 'Hey, it ain't his fault; just do the right thing,'" Fipp said. "So, I said, 'Hey, no worries, I'll try to hurry here.'"
Dave Fipp passed along a valuable lesson he learned
Fipp grew up in California, and his first NFL job came with the San Francisco 49ers in 2008 as assistant special teams coach. How did that opportunity come?
In 2008, Rodgers his post as the 49ers' assistant special teams coordinator to become the special teams coordinator at Kansas State. He left behind a list of candidates to replace him, and Fipp was on the list.
"He calls me up and he says, ‘Hey, man, I just want to give you a heads up, I gave your name to the head coach and the special teams coordinator,’” Fipp recalled.
Fipp was hired by then-49ers head coach Mike Nolan, and he has been in the NFL ever since-with the 49ers, the Miami Dolphins, the Philadelphia Eagles and now the Lions.
So what's the overriding lesson here?
"I try to say to everybody, especially my kids," Fipp said. "Don't burn bridges. “You just never know when it's gonna come back."