The Kansas City Chiefs will take on the San Francisco 49ers on Super Bowl Sunday, trying to win their second straight championship and third in the last five years. As a result of their currently unrivaled success, there is plenty of talk about the Chiefs entering the ranks of the NFL’s dynasties.
While that distinction is a subjective one to make, there is no denying that they have one person in their ranks already deserving of that moniker.
Let’s meet their one-man dynasty. Let’s meet linebackers coach Brendan Daly.
Chances are, you have never heard of Daly. Make no mistake, however, he is among the winningest individuals in NFL history. Entering Sunday’s game against the 49ers, he already is a five-time champion and now has a chance to add to his impressive résumé — possibly becoming one of only a handful of people with six Super Bowl rings in their possession.
Daly’s career, however, started off in rather inglorious fashion.
A tight end by trade, he played college football at Drake. However, it was clear that his future was not as an active player. Instead, he wanted to go into coaching.
The road to get there was a rocky one, though, as the Des Moines Register pointed out in the week leading up to last year’s Super Bowl (that saw Daly win his fifth ring):
He graduated in 1997 and worked several odd jobs around Des Moines. He bartended at AK O’Connor’s and got a job at Stanley Steemer, cleaning carpets during the day and slinging drinks at night.
But coaching was always his dream. He got his shot later that fall when Mike Looney, a former graduate assistant at Drake, called [Rob] Ash. Looney was looking for some coaches for his staff at Ridgewood High School in Florida. Ash saw coaching potential in Daly and recommended him.
“I loaded everything I owned into a pickup, and smashed the window in the back of it loading a couch, and drove to Florida in the middle of a rainstorm,” Daly said.
Daly paid his dues, working as a special educator and coach at Ridgewood before returning to Drake in 1998. While he officially coached tight ends, his responsibilities were far-reaching. Basically, he had to lend a hand wherever one was needed.
Filming practices? Sure.
Packing and unpacking the bus for road trips? You bet.
Daly spent one year in that role before stints at Villanova, Maryland, Oklahoma State and Illinois State. He served as tight ends coach, graduate assistant, strength and conditioning coach along the way. He did what he had to do to make coaching ends meet.
Then, in 2005, he took on another role — one he had so far only held briefly at Ridgewood eight years earlier. When he returned to Villanova that year, he was asked to coach the Wildcats’ defensive line.
Daly has been serving on that side of the ball ever since, making the jump to the NFL level just one year later: the Minnesota Vikings hired him as their assistant D-line coach in 2006. He spent three years there, then three more in St. Louis before rejoining the Vikings in 2012 to take over the main job coaching defensive linemen.
His work and extensive résumé then put him on the radar of arguably the greatest coach in pro football history.
Bill Belichick and the Patriots brought Daly in as a defensive assistant in 2014. While he was a low-level coach at that point in time, that season would kick off a remarkable run.
Daly went on to win three Super Bowls with the Patriots between 2014 and 2018. He earned the first of his championships in his coaching assistant role, before moving to defensive line coach the following offseason. In that capacity, he helped New England to two more titles to cap off the 2016 and 2018 seasons.
Following that 2018 campaign and with the Patriots undergoing some changes on their defensive staff, Daly departed for Kansas City. He promptly won a fourth Super Bowl, and a fifth three years later.
The success he enjoyed over the last few seasons extends beyond his full hand’s worth of championship rings. Daly also took part in every AFC Championship Game since 2014 — that is 10 straight, in case you’ve lost count — and will coach in his eighth Super Bowl on Sunday.
He appears to be a rather insignificant cog in the Chiefs’ machinery when compared to the likes of Patrick Mahomes, or Travis Kelce, or Andy Reid. He very much is not, however.
Look no further than last year’s Super Bowl against the Philadelphia Eagles, when his position group made one of the biggest plays of the Chiefs’ 38-35 victory: linebacker Nick Bolton returned a Jalen Hurts fumble for a defensive touchdown. As a result of this play, and the team’s efforts especially in the second half against the Eagles, the 47-year-old added a fifth championship to his tally.
On Sunday, No. 6 might follow. Regardless of the result against the 49ers, however, the Daly dynasty is alive and well — and there is no telling how far it can still go.