At any given time, only 32 people on the planet can call themselves head coaches in the NFL.
For Ben McAdoo, who just became the 17th head coach in New York Giants history, it began with stalking a fellow Western Pennsylvanian at the 2003 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
McAdoo was 25 years old at the time, and his most recent post was the offensive line and tight ends coach at Fairfield University in Connecticut. After the 2002 season, the head coach left the school and McAdoo was appointed assistant head coach. However, the program was then disbanded.
So McAdoo began to work the phones in search of his next opportunity.
Through his network, he was turned onto a possible opening with the Saints, whose offensive coordinator was now-Packers head coach Mike McCarthy.
“I actually got him on the phone and talked to him briefly,” McAdoo recalled in a Q&A with Giants.com during this past season. “He said, ‘I think the position is filled. We have to go through all the red tape and everything like that, but we have a pretty good candidate right now.’ He would let me know after he got back from Indianapolis if the job was filled or not. I did not want to wait. I wanted to try and grab him as soon as I could get my hands on him.”
So he drove -- through a terrible snowstorm in a Daewoo, an automobile that is now defunct, like the program he just finished coaching in Fairfield.
“I remember driving in West Virginia over the hills trying to figure out if I was on the road or not,” McAdoo said. “It was one of those type deals. Everyone was in a state of emergency, and I am trucking through. It took me about 26 hours to get from Connecticut to Indianapolis. I had my suit ready to go, and I was sitting in the mall outside the Canterbury [Hotel] with a big duffle bag full of binders ready to show my work. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do sometimes.”
McCarthy on Ben McAdoo: Can't tell you how proud I am. He's ready & deserving.— Green Bay Packers (@packers) January 14, 2016
That commitment left an impression on McCarthy, who later hired him in Green Bay in 2006. McAdoo spent eight years as an assistant with the Packers, the first six as the team’s tight ends coach and the final two as the quarterbacks coach, before Tom Coughlin hired him as the Giants’ offensive coordinator in 2014.
And all these years later, McCarthy still remembers the story of McAdoo driving across the country. In fact, during a press conference on Thursday leading up to the Packers’ playoff game against the Cardinals, McCarthy shared it with local reporters when asked about the Giants’ hire.
“I think a lot of us that are from that region of the country take a lot of pride in being from there in Western Pennsylvania,” McCarthy said. “Ben has a tremendous work ethic. I remember the first day I met him, I talked to him. I was at the Indianapolis combine. I was the offensive coordinator for the New Orleans Saints, and he had called me on the phone seeking an opportunity just to talk football.
“He was coaching [in Fairfield] and we talked on the phone that evening, and then the next day at lunch, when I was coming back from workouts at the combine, Ben was sitting in the hotel lobby waiting for me. He drove all night just for an opportunity to sit down and talk football. So that’s my first impression of Ben McAdoo, and then obviously to see what he’s put himself in position for is just no surprise. [He’s] tremendously dedicated, not just to his family, but to the coaching profession.”