Brian Daboll was about to graduate from the University of Rochester in 1997 when he embarked on a sun and surf getaway college students have pursued for generations.
Accompanied by a friend, Daboll departed upstate New York and travelled to Virginia Beach, where he not only found warmth and good times, but his life's work. They were driving in Williamsburg, near the campus of the College of William & Mary. Daboll's friend, knowing he wanted to be a football coach, told him, "There's a cool school. You should go and check it out."
And he did. Like a salesman making a cold call, he walked into the football office unannounced.
"I went up to the secretary and asked, 'Can I talk to the head coach (Jimmye Laycock),'" Daboll said. "She's like, 'Do you have an appointment?' Coming from a D-III school, it's a little different. I said, 'No. I want to talk to somebody about trying to get a job.' She's said, 'Hold on a second.' She came back and said, 'There's the defensive coordinator. You can talk to him.' His name is Russ Huesman. He's a head coach right now in college (at Richmond).
"There was a person who was in the role I went (to talk about). It was a volunteer role. You weren't getting any money. He decided he wanted to go to law school – that day. So, they said, 'Yeah, you can come and help the staff for no money.' And I was like, 'Let's go.'"
But first there was the little matter of telling his grandmother, Ruth Kirsten, who had raised him, that he would make not even a dollar despite the economics degree he had earned from a esteemed university.
"That was a fun talk," Daboll said. "I just went to a pretty prestigious school, and I was going to take a job that paid me no money. She asked, 'How much is it for?' I said, 'No money.' She said, 'What the hell is wrong with you? Why the hell did you go to school?'"
Certainly, valid concerns at the time. But no one can question if Daboll made the correct decision. This is his 26th consecutive season as a football coach. Daboll, 47, was part of five Super Bowl championship teams in two stints with the New England Patriots and won a national championship at the University of Alabama. His mentors include coaching titans Bill Belichick and Nick Saban. He has worked with some of history's best quarterbacks, including Tom Brady and Brett Favre. This year, Daboll reached the pinnacle of his profession when became the 20th head coach in Giants history.
"This is a special franchise," Daboll said. "The ownership group – the Mara family and the Tisch family – what the Giants mean to this community, to the people in this building, the scouting side to the coaching side to the administrative side to the business side to strength. I'm trying to take it day by day and get a little bit better each day. Trying to do it right and treat people right. It's a lot of work. To be good, you've got to be skilled, got to work hard and maybe a little bit of luck. This place has been fantastic since I've been here."
View photos from the life and career of Brian Daboll, who embarks on his first season with the Giants
He is equally effusive talking about the people he has met and the places he's been on his passage. Countless football coaches have trod the path Daboll followed, working in numerous programs (three in college, now seven in the NFL), moving their family from town to town in pursuit of steady work or a better job.
Daboll was born in Welland, Ontario, Canada, a suburb of Niagara Falls. He was raised by his grandparents (Chris and Ruth Kirsten) and mother (Nancy Rappl) in West Seneca, N.Y., just outside Buffalo. Rappl was 19 when Brian was born. Daboll never knew his father and has no siblings yet said his upbringing was "pretty normal."
Rappl, who now lives in North Carolina, and his grandparents (who were married for 68 years before they passed away three weeks apart last year) provided a strong support system.
"My grandmother had 10 brothers and sisters," Daboll said. "She was the third oldest. They all lived not too far one another and where we lived. My grandfather took me to all my sporting events. He was a groundskeeper at a local high school. My grandmother was the matriarch of the family. She took care of the home and her family."
She also insisted her sports loving grandson excel in school.
"I wouldn't have been able to do (crap) if it wasn't for my grandmother," Daboll said. "She wouldn't have let me do anything if I wasn't a good student."
Daboll was a fan of the Buffalo Bills and Sabres. He played several sports but quickly focused on one.
"Football was my favorite," he said. "You play those sports – whether it's baseball, soccer, hockey – all your life into the time you were a teenager. Sometimes you get burned out. So, I tried a new sport and I'm glad I did."
Daboll was a starting running back and cornerback in his final two seasons and was a senior captain at St. Francis High.
"My high school team was really good," he said. "We had a lot of guys from our high school play collegiate football – a tremendous amount from my team."
After graduating from St. Francis, Daboll established a family precedent by attending Rochester.
"I was the first person to go to college out of my grandparents, my mother and my aunt," he said. "Nobody went to school. I was going to go to a local school near my house (Daeman University) and be a physical therapist. My grandma was pretty happy about that. I was close. You'd make 40, 50, 60 grand. That would be a great living. Then I went on a trip with one of my buddies from high school just to see Rochester, and they were recruiting me. I had a good weekend, and I said, 'This is a nice place.' Good school, challenging academically and it was hard to get into. I got into it, and it was a good four years. I met a lot of good buddies"
The Yellowjackets were not as successful as his teams at St. Francis.
"We didn't win a lot," Daboll said. "I went from high school where we won every game basically to scraping and fighting and scraping. So, the wins we did have we appreciated."
Daboll was a safety who started as a sophomore and junior. On Sept. 9, 1995, he intercepted three passes in a 9-5 win against Case Western Reserve in Cleveland. The third pick came in the middle of the end zone in the closing seconds.
In the final game of his junior year, Daboll "dinged" his neck, forcing him out of uniform in his senior season. He began working with the coaching staff and the seed was planted for his long career.
"That's when I fell in love with being outside, being around the guys, doing whatever I could do around the office with the coaches," he said. "That was after two years of starting. And I liked doing it. I liked the camaraderie. I would say I'm highly competitive. It kept me in the competitive spirit of things."
A year later, Daboll proved his commitment to coaching by working at William & Mary without drawing a paycheck.
"I lived in a tiny apartment," Daboll said. "I helped out Russ Huesman. He was fantastic. Good man. Treated met the right way. Anything he needed I helped with. I alternated every other week helping the film coordinator. So, it was all VHS tapes, splicing them up – offense, defense, special teams. After the game, I was cutting those up and exchanging those with the school we're playing. I loved it because you are still part of the team. That's what it's all about. Contributing to the team in a positive way to hopefully impact the team in a winning way.
"I also got a job working to make a bit of money in the morning at a place called Kingsmill. It was a country club. I was handing out towels."
After spending his first season in his profession's basement, Daboll set out to start climbing the coaching hierarchy. Following that season, he sent letters to the head coach of every Division I school. He received "a ton" of standard responses but no offer. "I said, 'That's not working.'" Daboll said.
He tried another tactic, sending letters to all the schools' offensive and defensive coordinators.
"I had nothing left because I had to pay for the stamps and all that other stuff," he said. "Then, I tried to figure out who was in charge of hiring graduate assistants. I took my top 20 schools and cold called them. I asked the secretary, 'Can I speak to so and so?' If they put me through, I left a message or talked to them. They put me through to a guy at Michigan State by the name of Chris Cosh. He said. 'Hey, if you don't send any more letters - because I have four of your letters on my desk - or call anymore, I promise you I'll call you if there's an opening.' So, I interviewed with Coach Saban, and I got that graduate assistant job."
Daboll worked with the defense for two seasons. He roomed with three other graduate assistants, including Josh McDaniels and Mel Tucker, now the head coaches at the Las Vegas Raiders and Michigan State, respectively. Future head coaches Mark Dantonio, Todd Grantham and Bobby Williams (father of Giants special teams quality control coach Nick Williams) were also on Saban's staff.
"I was able to work with a lot of good coaches," Daboll said. "I was a defensive graduate assistant. You didn't get a lot of sleep between breaking down the tape, creating the scouting reports, all the things you had to do. The first year I was in the office most of the time and not on the field. The next year I was on the field, and that was the year coach Saban left to go to LSU."
With a recommendation from Saban, Daboll got an opportunity to interview in New England with Belichick, who hired him as a defensive assistant. "There were a bunch of guys interviewing," Daboll said. "I was fortunate to get that job. It didn't pay much more than being a graduate assistant, but it was a great job."
And he got it just three years after asking for a job at William & Mary. Did Daboll think he had hit the big time?
"Not looking at my bank account, I'll tell you that," he said. "Anytime you want to try to do well at something, I think there's obstacles and things you have to overcome. And it was a lot of work for not a lot of money the first five years. My first year at William & Mary, two years at Michigan State and two years (2000-01) at New England didn't pay a lot of money. I always tell my kids this nowadays. You want to keep rising up the ranks in whatever you do, but you better be where your feet are and do a good job. And it's not on your time. When it's supposed to happen, it will happen. And that's a hard thing. You start out young not making a lot of money. By my sixth year, I was a position coach. That was 2002 when I got that job. I got it before my 27th birthday, so I was 26. I was pretty young getting a position job. And then a couple more years, I thought, 'Man I'm ready to be a head coach.' It took 25 years to get this opportunity."
Daboll coached the Patriots' wide receivers from 2002-06. In those seven years in New England, the Patriots won three Super Bowls.
"I am very thankful about the coaches that I got to learn under," Daboll said. "Obviously, coach Belichick, but also (former offensive coordinator) Charlie Weis taught me a lot, as did (fellow assistants) Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini and Dante Scarnecchia). The offense we were running was Charlie's. And I was very fortunate to have the players I had when I got that opportunity. Particularly two veteran players. One named Troy Brown and the other – God rest his soul – named David Patten who passed away in a motorcycle accident. They really taught me a lot. They taught me about the technical aspect of playing that position and trying to see the game through their eyes as I learned the nuances of the offense, particularly the receiver spot.
"I was a diligent guy. I worked my tail off. I learned a lot. I studied a lot in the offseason. And we drafted two young players: Deion Branch and David Givens, who were outstanding. Between the four of those guys, I was very thankful they were the guys I got to coach."
Another significant life event occurred for Daboll while he was with the Patriots. On April 14, 2006 – his 31st birthday – Daboll was visiting his family when he and Matt Donohue – "My best friend in the world since I'm about four years old" – went to a popular spot called the Buffalo Sports Garden (BSG). Daboll walked in, spotted a woman he had never seen before and said to Donohue, "I'm going to marry that girl with the dark hair right there. I'm in love with her."
Donohue's response was not exactly shocking.
"I don't want to repeat what he said to me," Daboll said, "but it was basically, 'You're an idiot.'"
Having decided he wanted to spend his life with the mystery woman and fortified by his friend's encouragement, Daboll moved across the room to initiate their first conversation.
"He was in town with a bunch of his buddies out for his birthday and I was going out with some of my girlfriends to see a local band," said the woman, another Buffalo native who is now Beth Daboll native. "We met watching this band. We hit it off right away."
They quickly learned each had previously been married and had two children. Brian's were five (Christian) and one (Haven), Beth's were six (Mark) and two (Aiden).
"We both had little kids around the same ages, and it just felt like I knew him forever," Beth said. "Been together ever since that night."
Their first date was at Ilio DiPaolo's, a "great Italian place" according to Beth.
"We were watching American Idol at the bar waiting for a table, and we were just cracking up," Beth said. "I thought, 'Oh my gosh. I think I'm going to fall in love with this guy; he's so funny.' He was very charming. Very charming guy. We were inseparable right away. He would come in every weekend. I would go there."
They were married on March 24, 2009.
"We took our time because we both had little kids," Beth said. "And our kids always come first. We dated a little while, and we introduced the kids when we knew it was for real. And they hit it off amazing. They're so close. They were raised like brothers and sisters.
"He had to be back (in New England), so we got married on Tuesday, and it was back to work the next week."
When the Dabolls started dating, they couldn't discuss the nuances of zone blocking or the hurry-up offense.
"I knew nothing about football," Beth said. "I didn't know what a wide receiver was. Now I know more football than I'd like, but at the time, no. I didn't know anything. I think that's why it worked. I didn't really want to talk about football, because I couldn't. I didn't know it."
Despite that, she signed on for the peripatetic life of a football coach's family. In 2007, Daboll left the Patriots to join the AFC East rival Jets.
"I had the opportunity to be a quarterback coach," Daboll said. "My aspiration in life when I started in this thing was to do as well as I could. But at some point, I wanted to become a head coach. And I thought that before you become a head coach you have to try to become a coordinator. And the best way to become an offensive coordinator is to get an opportunity to coach quarterbacks. And that opportunity was afforded to me, so I went to the Jets."
Who, in his second year, acquired a Hall of Fame quarterback for him to coach in Favre.
"A dear friend to this day," Daboll said. "I was only there for a short time, but I developed a special relationship with him. Learned the game through his eyes and how he looked at things. Between him and the quarterback we had the year before – Chad Pennington – were veteran presence players who had played the game for a while and had some success doing it. No two players look at the game through the same set of eyes even though they may be similar. I was afforded the opportunity to have some good veteran quarterbacks that I've learned from and that I've coached – Jake Delhomme, Chad Pennington, Favre and Brady. And also be around on a team that had Josh Allen the last four years."
In 2009, Daboll became an offensive coordinator for the first time with the Cleveland Browns. After two seasons there, he did one-year stints in the same position with the Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs. Daboll returned to New England as an offensive coaching assistant in 2017 and then spent two years coaching the Patriots' tight ends.
Daboll's career took a dramatic turn in 2017, when he returned to collegiate football as Saban's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at the University of Alabama.
"I wasn't getting any younger," Daboll said. "I wanted another crack at being a coordinator, and that job became open. I thought it was a good opportunity because you're at a good place, with a good organization and it was a legendary head coach. And that might've been the track I had to take to become a head coach."
With the Crimson Tide, Daboll coached three quarterbacks currently starting in the NFL: Jalen Hurts (Philadelphia), Tua Tagovailoa (Miami) and Mac Jones (New England). That Alabama team finished 13-1 and won the school's 17th national championship. The Crimson Tide averaged 38.8 points, 245.0 rushing yards, 210.3 passing yards and 455.3 yards of total offense in Daboll's one season in Tuscaloosa.
The Tide defeated Georgia, 26-23, in an epic national championship game. Tagovailoa, then a true freshman, replaced Hurts at the beginning of the second half. On the first possession of overtime, Rodrigo Blankenship kicked a 51-yard field goal to give Georgia a three-point lead. The Tide needed a score to stay alive. But on the first play of the ensuing possession, the inexperienced Tagovailoa was sacked for a 16-yard loss. Instead of trying to regain a chunk of the lost yardage, Daboll called for a long pass and Tagovailoa threw a 41-yard game-winning touchdown pass andto DeVonta Smith.
"I wanted to score a touchdown because they had just hit a field goal," Daboll said of his thought process when the possession began. "We ran a play that was a complement to a play we had run a week earlier versus Clemson that looked exactly the same, and it just didn't pan out. And we lost some yardage. We called the next play, and Tua made a great play."
From catastrophe to championship in a matter of seconds.
"I tell my kids this all the time," Daboll said. "I have five Super Bowl rings and a national championship ring. Fortunately, we are 6-0 in those games. I've been part of some other losses and playoffs, and you think of those more than you actually do about the wins. But those games that I was a part of that we won, every one of those came down to the last play. It could've easily been flipped. Two field goals, two interceptions, and two overtimes."
In addition to a great season of football, the Daboll family of western New York felt at home in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
"Oh my god, I loved Tuscaloosa," Beth said. "I had our youngest son in Tuscaloosa. I moved down there eight and a half months pregnant. It was very hot in August. The people there were amazing. I was a little nervous about going down south because I'm from the northeast, and it's so different. But we loved it. It was great."
"We lived in a great neighborhood," Daboll said. "The people were fantastic. It was different coaching in college than in the National Football League. Not necessarily the Xs and Os, but you're dealing with younger kids. You're probably even more influential on them. Whether it's helping them in a classroom, off the field or on the field. We have less time meeting about football. I developed a lot of relationships in the time I was there."
Beth insists the season at Alabama made Daboll a better coach.
"I think it was the biggest change in him as a coach that could've happened, because he really relates better to the players now when they're coming from out of college," Beth said. "He got to see the transition. When you're in the pros for so long, I think you get used to the veterans. To work with the younger guys and seeing where they're coming from and how they're transitioning, I think it softened him a little bit."
Daboll concurs with Beth's evaluation.
"I got to go back to Alabama and be a coordinator again and to be around some younger guys and show a little bit more empathy and build relationships with college guys that you think you can give them some good advice and help them along the way," he said. "It made me realize the importance even more so – I knew it was important – of building trust and relationships with the players, so I could earn their respect and be accountable to them. And they were a really good football team. Obviously, I was with coach Saban before at Michigan State, but that year was a really good year. We loved it there in Tuscaloosa, but just also dealing with the young men that I got to deal with, it was a great experience."
Daboll's journey through the coaching ranks brought him home to Buffalo in 2018, when he became the Bills' offensive coordinator. It was his eighth job in 13 years, which resulted in frequent moves for the Daboll family.
"It's probably more difficult for the people around you," Daboll said. "I think stability is important. Obviously, this job doesn't always provide that. But it was good to get back and settle down a little bit back in New England and then go to Alabama. But I was grateful for my four years in Buffalo."
"It can be stressful," Beth said of the frequent moves. "The big thing is making it an adventure for the kids. Making sure the kids are happy and are excited about the move. If they see that mom and dad are good and we're happy and we're digging our heels in, they kind of follow suit. Most of the time, it's exciting. I think you have to be a certain type of person to enjoy it. I think it's harder for some than others. But we really love it. Brian says about me all the time that if we're in a house for too long, she gets bored and wants to change the entire house. Because I'm used to moving all the time. If we're somewhere for a couple of years, which is great, I redo the kitchen, or I change the wallpaper. I get bored. I like being somewhere new. I'm a northeast girl growing up in Buffalo. I love it. Brian loves it. We bought our dreamhouse here. It's everything we've always wanted in every house. And we're close to the beach. We're close to everything. What more could you ask for? The move part is just like a small part of it."
The Dabolls purchased a home wherever they went and built a house in Buffalo that was their home base. "We just sold our house in Buffalo, and we're in Jersey now," Beth said.
When he was with the Bills, Daboll rekindled another important relationship, with Joe Schoen, who was Buffalo's assistant general manager. Schoen was named the Giants' general manager on Jan. 21. A week later, he hired Daboll as the team's coach.
The two were first teammates in 2011 in Miami, where Daboll was the offensive coordinator and Schoen the Dolphins' national scout (while living in Dallas).
"We came into meetings, and he was very detailed with his college evaluations, and spoke very knowledgeably about prospects and what he saw," Schoen said. "He had a really good process in place even back then about evaluating quarterbacks. That was my first exposure to him, so I've stayed in touch with him since 2011 and obviously worked with him in Buffalo."
Daboll and Schoen have several similarities. They grew up in small towns (Schoen in Elkhart, Ind.) and attended respected colleges that will never be compared to Alabama on the football field (Schoen was a quarterback and wide receiver at DePauw University). Schoen's first NFL job was a ticket office intern before becoming a scouting assistant. Daboll began as a volunteer in college and a defensive assistant in the NFL. They spent more than 20 years climbing similar career ladders to their present positions.
"We both started at the bottom," Schoen said. "We were Division III athletes and worked our way up. He's been a position coach for several different positions. He's been on the defensive side of the ball. He's been a coordinator in college and pro. For me, I was a scouting assistant. I was an area scout. I was a national scout, director of player personnel, assistant G.M. In terms of paying our dues, we have put in the time, learning from a lot of good mentors, working hard throughout the entire time and just doing our job the best we could, with the goal of both of us being in these seats. I think there's definitely some parallels."
"We have some of the same qualities," Daboll said. "Extremely hard worker. He's a great teammate. He's easy to communicate with. I think those are important things to be able to do to be a good leader."
The Bills were exceptionally successful in the four seasons Daboll and Schoen were together in Buffalo. They earned three consecutive playoff berths, won the last two AFC East titles and advanced to the conference championship game in 2020, when Buffalo was 13-3 and Daboll was voted the AP's NFL Assistant Coach of the Year.
Daboll also oversaw the development of Allen, the seventh overall selection in the 2018 NFL Draft. Allen is the only player in history with 100 passing and 30 rushing touchdowns in his first four years. In the last two seasons, Allen threw 73 touchdown passes against just 24 interceptions.
But Schoen looked well beyond the numbers in choosing Daboll to be the Giants' coach.
"The biggest thing about Dabs (pronounced Dabes) is he's himself," Schoen said. "He's got a lot of football knowledge that he can apply to different situations – gameday, game planning. But he's himself. He's not trying to be somebody that he's not.
"He knows when to put the pedal to the metal and stay on the guys. And he knows when to pull off. He's got a very good sense of the room and different situations. He can read a room. He can read a player. When it's time to put your arm around them and then when it's time to get on them. And when it's time to raise your voice. Then he'll circle back and love them up later on. He has a really good feel for that."
Though he can be tough and demanding on his players, Daboll is about as affable a football coach as you'll meet off the field. He walks around the Giants' headquarters fist-bumping and chatting with most people he comes across. Daboll will sit in the cafeteria and welcome anyone who wants to stop and chat. When he meets someone, his go-to line is, "call me Dabs."
Did he say that to Beth the night they met at the BSG?
"He did not," she said. "I don't call him Brian frequently. I call him Daboll. I don't think a lot of people call him Brian. His grandmother and his grandfather called him Brian."
Beth said Daboll's sociable personality has emerged over time.
"I think he really found that being his authentic self and being himself, all the time, made him be the most successful," said Beth. "And he learned that early on, thank God, and he carries that with him. He has just great energy. You can feel it when he walks in the room. He's very charismatic. He really cares about people. He's very authentic. And that's part of the reason why he is where he is. He's been around some of the greatest coaches. He is very humble. He listens. He knows that people are successful with reason, and he reaches out to a lot of people and tries to find out and take what he can take from them. And I think him being authentic and being himself is why people think he's a regular guy."
Matt Donohue might have thought he was crazy, but Daboll absolutely chose his perfect partner at first glance on that birthday night 16 years ago. Daboll loves to Facetime and he'll check in with Beth several times a day, even while he's walking down the steps from his office to the team meeting room. Every conversation ends with "I love you."
Beth calls her husband "a hopeless romantic" who "would have a hundred kids if he could." They have had two children together, Avery, 6 and Luke, 4. Their six combined children range in age from 22 to four.
"I feel like a grandfather and a father at the same time," Daboll said. "I was walking out of a restaurant holding the door for an older gentleman walking out with a cane. My 21-year-old had the 4-year-old and was holding him. The older gentleman looked at me and said, 'It's nice to see three generations.'"
Beth said Brian is a "terrible loser," a not uncommon trait among football coaches.
"He's so competitive," she said. "He's a mess, and it spans from if he loses to the kids in ping pong. I think he's better now than when he was younger. He tries his best in front of the kids. But everyone knows, just give him some time, let him simmer down. And then he'll come out of it. He works. (After a game) he goes right to the tape. Gets going right away. And once he's done with that, once he reviews the game and everything's done, then he kind of chills out a little bit. But no, he's a terrible loser. He hates losing more than anything."
"I'm terrible," Daboll said. "I'll freely admit, the worst thing I do is lose. I hate it with a passion. And that was kind of instilled in me, probably from my grandmother. She was a very competitive woman. She let me win a lot when I was a kid. So, when I lost it would not be good. Unfortunately, my four-year-old is walking the same path that I'm walking down. I can't take it. He's got a very bad temper when it comes to that. And I know where he got it from. Unfortunately."
As Schoen and Daboll rebuild the Giants' roster, he could endure more of that this season than he's accustomed to.
"I really want him to do well," Beth said. "You always want your husband to be at the top of his game. He wants to win so badly. He wants to turn it around and be successful, and he works so hard for that. You just want that for him."
The woman who once couldn't identify the positions on a football team is now engrossed in the sport.
"I get so nervous during games I can like barely talk," she said. "Even when we're winning, I count in my head, 'There's how many minutes left? Could they come back? Could they do this?' It's a different experience when it's your livelihood. It's their dream. It gets a little bit more intense. I get very nervous at the games anyway. I would like to think I'm going to be the same amount of nervous, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to be even worse."
Brian Daboll has traveled a long and winding road in the 25 years since he walked into the William & Mary football office and asked for a job. Football took him far away from home and back again. Daboll has worked for 10 collegiate and professional programs, including twice with the Patriots. He has won six championships, made scores of friends and influenced hundreds of players.
Throughout the voyage, he kept one eye on the ultimate prize, a head coach opportunity. With everything he's accomplished, would his career be incomplete if he hadn't ascended to the highest step on the coaching ladder?
"It would've sat heavy on him if he didn't make it because that was always his goal," Beth said. "I think it was especially special for him that it was here, because a lot of his favorite guys growing up and his team growing up in Buffalo that he really liked was the Giants. It was crazy that when he said that this was an opportunity, it was almost surreal for him. A place that has so much history and that has such a huge impact on the game – you know the Mara family and the Tisches – he just went on and on. I think the opportunity to be a head coach was something that was his number one goal. And for it to be here – somewhere that he had a connection and a passion for – made it the icing on the cake.
"In Buffalo, the ownership was amazing and the relationships that he had there are hard to replace. He's so close with Josh and a bunch of the guys on the team. It's hard to leave them, but ultimately this is his number one goal. And he's just elated. He's so happy. He comes home every day with a smile on his face. He really loves it."
But what if he had never had the chance to sit in the big chair?
"It's tough to answer because I'm blessed to have this opportunity," Daboll said. "It took a long time. Close to 25 years having to watch some friends and colleagues that, whether they started later than you or had the opportunity before you, you're so happy for them. It's well deserved. But for part of you, it's that losing mentality. Like (damn), I lost that, or I didn't get that job. I got bypassed on that. And that's the competitive part of me because I want to try to be the best in everything that I do. It's like the saying, if you're not first, you're last. So yeah, it's a competition to me.
"Did I want this opportunity? Absolutely. But I've been blessed. You coach to make a difference, first and foremost, and build relationships with people. But you coach to win and be part of a winning culture and a winning program. And fortunately, I've been part of five world championships, a national championship, multiple championships at my high school team. And to do it as part of a team, that's what's important to me. To be one of the leaders of it – whether I was a captain or a coordinator – and now I'm fortunate enough to be a head coach. And you like to be given that opportunity. That's what I worked for. But to say I would be incomplete, I don't know. I like working with people in this business: the players, the coaches, the staff. I'm fortunate to have this opportunity and make the most of it."