1.Freddie Kitchens is a familiar name as the new head coach of the Cleveland Browns. He’s been with the team for almost exactly a year, first as an offensive assistant and then the interim offensive coordinator for the final eight games.
The 44-year-old Alabama native has an interesting past. Here are a few things to know about the new Browns head coach.
2.He put his mark on the Alabama passing record book
Crimson Tide fans don’t recall the period between Bear Bryant and Nick Saban too fondly, but Kitchens made a name for himself in that era in Tuscaloosa. He was the primary starting QB for Alabama from 1995-97, leading the team to two bowl appearances as a top-flight recruit.
Despite being just over a 50 percent passer, Kitchens did manage to throw for 30 TDs. When he left Alabama, he ranked in the top five passing attempts, yards and completions and led the team to a 22-13 record as a starter.
3.Kitchens draws laughs in his press conferences
If he weren’t a football coach, Kitchens might have a career as a self-deprecating comedian. His Browns press conferences frequently featured pauses for genuine laughter from the gathered media, and the humor was often at his own expense.
Kitchens is readily at ease with his down-home Alabama roots, his middle-aged pudginess and his relationship with his players. He’s comfortable being Freddie Kitchens and that puts everyone around him at ease.
4.He’s lucky to be alive
While he was coaching with the Arizona Cardinals in 2013, Kitchens had emergency open heart surgery to fix an issue with his aorta. Just 38 at the time, Kitchens collapsed on the practice field.
Trainers quickly rushed to his aid and got him immediate medical attention. Had he been almost anywhere else, his condition would have resulted in his untimely death. Kitchens candidly talked about his near-death experience with NFL.com after his recovery.
5.He got his NFL coaching start under Bill Parcells
After a few collegiate coaching stops, including Mississippi State and LSU, Kitchens earned his first NFL coaching paycheck with the 2006 Dallas Cowboys. Bill Parcells was the head coach on that team. Kitchens served as the TE coach, working with All-Pro Jason Witten.
He moved onto the Arizona Cardinals after that season, which infamously ended when Tony Romo botched a 19-yard field goal snap in a playoff loss to Seattle. His head coach in Arizona was Ken Whisenhunt. The offensive coordinator on that Cards team was none other than Todd Haley, the man he replaced as the OC in Cleveland in 2018.