Revealing New Profile Of Chip Kelly

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Great job by The Washington Post‘s Kent Babb on his recent profile of Chip Kelly which reveals, among other things, that the head coach was married for seven years in the 1990’s.

Babb spoke with his ex-wife, Jennifer Jenkins, who met Kelly when she was a senior at New Hampshire. She remains in contact with the Eagles  head coach.

In 2011, Jenkins read an article in the New York Times that described bachelor coaches and how, even in the image-conscious and political world of college football, Kelly had never been married.

“Why does everything say that you weren’t married?” Jenkins said a friend recently asked her. “I just roll my eyes.”

It used to hurt, she says, as if seven years of her life had been washed away. But now she finds the humor in it. Jenkins’s former coworkers knew the real story, and a friend joked about calling a sports radio show to reveal that the friend had been in Kelly’s wedding party. After enough strangers told Jenkins they didn’t believe her, she began carrying a wedding photograph on her iPhone. “Nobody talks about it,” she said. “But everybody knows.”

Why, Jenkins sometimes asked herself, was this considered a secret? It didn’t seem like one to her, and if it was, the artificial intrigue was either the most NFL thing ever or the most boring secret of all time. The truth was no more scandalous than Kelly’s middle name (Edward) or how he spent those six years between playing at New Hampshire and graduating (coaching junior varsity football, Jenkins said, and working as a gym teacher as he slowly completed his degree requirements).

As for the marriage, the years had simply come and gone in New Hampshire, Kelly an assistant on his mentor Bill Bowes’s staff and Jenkins working at the university. They lived in Durham for a while, and then Kelly took a coaching job at Johns Hopkins, moving to Baltimore for one year while Jenkins remained in New Hampshire.

Kelly rejoined Bowes’s staff yet again in 1994, and four years later he and Jenkins had begun to drift apart. They were no longer living together, and in 1999 they divorced.

While that was certainly the biggest bombshell in the piece, there were other notable anecdotes as well, like how Kelly ensures that his sports science program is being followed.

It seemed Kelly valued each morning’s urine test — plastic specimen cups waiting in locker stalls, jersey numbers written in black ink — as much as how a player performed during practice or a game.

“He wants guys who care about that stuff,” Eagles tight end Brent Celek said, “because that stuff does matter. A lot of the guys who are in our facility think the same way.”

Kelly backed up his methods with science and commitment, but what some saw as a revolution, others saw as misguided. One NFL player compared Kelly with Elon Musk; another referred to the coach’s methods as “Orwellian.” Regardless, each day players were greeted at the team facility by screens revealing who had completed the morning routine — an iPad soreness and mood survey, the results of a heart-rate monitor, and of course the urine test — showing players’ head shots and a background that turned green when the daily assessment was completed.

The entire piece is a must-read.