As the father of a professional football coach, Bill Nagy’s favorite team has changed more than once. Born and raised in central New Jersey, Bill grew up loving the New York Giants — and hating their arch-rivals the Philadelphia Eagles. That is, until his son Matt began coaching for them.
“Overnight, I had become a loyal, devout Eagles fan, now living and dying for a team I ridiculed and loathing the team I had esteemed for half a century!” Bill recalled.
It wouldn’t be the last time his football allegiances changed.
But before Bill became an Eagles fan, he graduated from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania in 1971 with a B.S. in Education. Following college, Bill taught and coached high school football in New Jersey for 10 years.
“I was a defensive lineman when I played and was never an ‘X’s and O’s’ type of coach. I coached excellent technique to the ‘bigs’ and was a great motivator.”
Bill would go on to coach his team to a New Jersey State Championship in 1980 as his son Matt looked on from the stands in Giants Stadium.
In 1982, Bill left teaching for the private business sector, owning and operating several businesses, including a gas, oil and auto repair station, an Italian restaurant and bar, a car dealership, and a mortgage company.
“In 2009, I decided to pull out and dust off my teacher’s license and begin subbing. From 2009 through 2013, I started subbing daily in the public-school districts of Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Reading, and York, Pennsylvania,” Bill said.
As Bill was reentering the education profession, his son Matt was making his NFL coaching debut with the Philadelphia Eagles under then-head coach Andy Reid, eventually becoming an Assistant Coach.
“One of the most memorable scenarios is when Matt was coaching in Philadelphia with the Eagles and Coach Reid brought in Todd Bowles as the Eagle’s Defensive Coordinator,” Bill said. “Todd was one of the players I coached at Elizabeth (NJ) High School when we won the New Jersey Group 4 State Championship in 1980. He ended up attending Temple University on a full football scholarship, played 8 years with the Washington Redskins, who won Super Bowl XXII and is currently the New York Jets Head Coach. Who would have ever thought that a son of mine and a kid I coached in high school would be assistant coaches on the same NFL team?”
When Andy Reid became head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs in 2012, Matt went with him.
“Not only did Matt have an outstanding, record-breaking playing career in high school, college and pro ball, but his football IQ is exceptional, which is why, I’m sure, Coach Reid has placed his faith in Matt to co-coordinate the Chiefs’ offense.”
With his son in Kansas City, Bill relocated and began subbing in the Kansas City Kansas Public School District in 2013. He continues to be one of his son’s biggest supporters and defenders.
“There have been issues and games where the media has publicly berated and/or criticized the offensive coaches with respect to issues like play-calling, time clock management, use (or non-use) of specific players, critical game-changing decisions, etc.,” Bill said. “Most, if not all, NFL coaches have been self-programmed and tempered to disregard media criticism when things go sideways. However, it’s only natural for family members to offer emotional, spiritual and mental support whenever situations call for it.”
Through it all, Bill feels blessed to watch one of his sons experience an unbelievable level of success and professional growth over the years.
When he’s not rooting for the Chiefs or spending time with his family, Bill is subbing in the Kansas City Kansas Public School District. His favorite subjects to sub for are history, art, and physical education.
“My favorite grades had been grades 7-12, but lately I’ve been having a lot of fun and really enjoying teaching third and fourth graders. I guess it has to do with a much higher level of innocence and unbridled excitement within that age group.”
One of his most memorable teaching moments came after he was warned about a particularly challenging student in a high school class. Bill had been told the student had behavioral problems and was consistently late to class.
“As prophesied, the student finally arrived and immediately started verbally assaulting classmates, walking around the room, constantly opening and looking out the door, not doing his work, etc.”
Bill told the student to sit by him. After asking the student a few questions about himself, Bill asked him to be his assistant for the day. The student agreed.
“I had him pass out papers, sharpen students’ pencils, write out hall passes, take messages to the office, etc. I soon noticed a constant smile on his face, almost as if nobody ever gave him this type of attention and responsibility. Within two hours, he was allowing me to individually work on that day’s lessons with him. And even to my great surprise, he was eating it all up! Before long, I noticed most of the other students whispering to each other and pointing toward where the student was quietly working and deeply focused on the assignment. They couldn’t believe their eyes.”
As the other students left for lunch, Bill asked the student to hang back.
“I told him how proud I was of him and asked him how he felt about understanding the lesson and successfully executing the assignment perfectly. He looked at me with this huge grin and said, ‘It feels real good, Mr. N.’ The way he said it to me told me that he really did feel a genuine sense of accomplishment. I asked him if it was possible for him to continue what he accomplished that morning into the following days, weeks and months. The way he affirmatively answered me suggested that he wanted to and would attempt to keep it going. As a daily sub, that was all I could hope for.”