Frank Reich, the Carolina Panthers first starting quarterback during its 1995 inaugural season, was introduced Jan. 31 as the team’s sixth head coach in franchise history.
At his introductory press conference Tuesday, Reich described his hiring as “an incredible opportunity to come back home to lead a team and a franchise which we were here in the beginnings.”
Reich, 61, most recently served as head coach of the Indianapolis Colts from 2018—when he was named AFC Coach of the Year— until he was let go Nov. 7 by Indianapolis after a 3-5-1 start to his fifth season. During his tenure as head coach with the Colts, Reich compiled a record of 40-33-1 while leading the team to the playoffs twice.
Reich’s NFL coaching career began in 2006 with the Colts, where he served in various offensive coaching capacities until 2011, followed by coaching stints with the Arizona Cardinals and San Diego Chargers. Reich served as offensive coordinator during the Philadelphia Eagles’ Super Bowl championship season of 2017 before rejoining the Colts as their head coach.
But before entering the NFL coaching ranks, Reich followed his 14-year NFL playing career—which included quarterbacking the Buffalo Bills to the largest comeback victory in NFL playoff history— by pursuing full-time Christian ministry.
During his retirement from professional football, Reich earned a master of divinity degree from Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina, while preaching about 75 times a year as an itinerant evangelist. He also served as president of the seminary for three years and pastored a Presbyterian church in Charlotte before sensing God leading him back to the gridiron.
In a July 2020 interview with Decision magazine, Reich said he considered coaching in the NFL as an extension of God’s call on his life to serve Him.
“A coaching role involves coaching the whole person,” Reich told Decision. “And so, you get to know these men as people, and we get to grow together. And when you get close to guys you talk about everything. … So, if I’m intimate with God through Christ, then that should overflow in my life. It should overflow in my speech, my countenance, in the work that I do, and in my relationships with other people.”
During the Panthers’ press conference, Reich reiterated his coaching philosophy. “It’s about the relationships and connections with the players,” he said. “They are going to feel my love and my respect for them. … It’s going to be about the team. The team, the team, the team. We’re going to do it the right way on and off the field.”
Panthers owner David Tepper called Reich “a man of incredible integrity, incredible family man.”
Photo: Chanelle Smith-Walker / Carolina Panthers