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Ben Olsen and D.C.'s players-turned-coaches

(By Jonathan Newton - TWP)

Ben Olsen became D.C. United's interim coach on Wednesday. He was, of course, one of the most popular and decorated players in the club's history, and the front-office wasn't shy about leaning on Olsen's playing legacy. Here's President Kevin Payne, via Goff:

"He brings fire and pride. He understands what the uniform means. He understands what it means to our fans. He understands what it means to our front office. He understands what it should mean to the players in the locker room. I am hoping that he will be able to constantly remind the players of that. There are some players in the locker room who don't understand what that means."

Raaaaaawr. But it's true, you'd have a tough time finding a fan or media member with a cross word to say about Olsen's legacy with the team. Payne also said that Olsen would almost certainly not be the coach at the start of next year, though "I really want him to have the opportunity to be fully prepared when he does someday become our head coach, which I fully expect he will be someday."

Which got me thinking, just how many former D.C. players have become successful D.C. coaches? The list is actually longer than I'd have guessed. (I only have media guides for United, the Caps, Wizards, Nats and Redskins, so those were the choices.) Olsen becomes the 10th ninth former player-turned coach in this town since the Senators left for Texas. Go ahead and try to name the other eight (not including the just-fired Curt Onalfo).....



Ok, ready?


* Jack Pardee was a linebacker in the early '70s before coaching the team for three seasons, from 1979-1981. He started off 4-1, but finished 20-23, and never made the playoffs.

* Richie Petitbon was a safety in the early '70s and earned one season as head coach, in 1993. The 4-12 result was one of the yuckiest in decades.

(Before Pardee, you have to go all the way back to Dick Todd, a running back in the '40s who coached the team for nine games in 1951).


The hotbed of players-turned-coaches in this town. Four of the past 13 head coaches have played for the Bullets/Wizards, including the two men with the most wins and games coached in franchise history.

* Gene Shue had two stints as the head coach, once in Baltimore and once in Washington. His career record of 522-505 makes him one of only four coaches in franchise history with a winning record.

* Kevin Loughery followed Shue's second stint. Loughery played parts of nine seasons in Baltimore, averaging 16.6 points per game. He was ok behind the bench, with a 57-65 record, though he lost both his playoff series.

* Wes Unseld followed Loughery, and before he left, the team went 14 straight seasons with an ex-player as its coach. Wes was the greatest as a player, and was 202-345 as a coach.

* Darrell Walker played four seasons in Washington, averaging 8.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 6.0 assists a game. He took over for Gar Heard in 2000, and was 15-23 as a coach.


* If you got this one, you're really deranged. A man named Roger Crozier coached the Caps for one game on an interim basis in November of 1981. The Caps lost, and then hired Bryan Murray. Crozier had also played three games in net for the Caps in the 1976-1977 season. Find me another pro athlete who coached and played for one franchise, in a total of four games.

* News to me, but Terry Murray was also a former player for the Caps, logging 25 points and a +/- of -14 in the 1981-82 season. He later became one of the most successful coaches in franchise history, going 163-134-28 in the regular season. He also had by far the most extensive playoff success of any of these men, winning three series and 18 games over four playoff appearances.

So those are the men in whose footsteps Ben Olsen follows. Though I'm guessing none of them ever had this done for them.

By Dan Steinberg  |  August 4, 2010; 1:41 PM ET
Categories:  Caps , D.C. United , Redskins , Wizards  
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You were going pro only, but both Gary Williams and Ralph Friedgen played for Maryland.

Posted by: mls74 | August 4, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

The original Senators franchise had several former players as managers, including Walter Johnson and Ossie Bluege. Bucky Harris and Joe Cronin were player-managers. Mickey Vernon played for the original Senators and was the first manager of the expansion Senators.

Posted by: Cosmo06 | August 4, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

How about: Curt Onalfo?

Posted by: stantonpark | August 4, 2010 5:58 PM | Report abuse

I knew about Terry Murray who was also coached by his brother when he played for the Caps.

Terry also succeeded his brother as Caps Head Coach.

Posted by: CapsNut | August 4, 2010 8:24 PM | Report abuse

im sure everything not involving albert haynesworth's weight and brett favre's jock size is news to you...let me fill out your blog for the next 6 months, redskins...redskins...john wall...redskins...redskins...nats one likes hockey

Posted by: formerlylove1 | August 5, 2010 2:44 AM | Report abuse

Perhaps more remarkable is that Crozier, even only playing three games, was probably the best goalie to play for the Caps in the first, oh, seven years of the franchise. I can vaguely recall him being quite good for those three games, and Wikipedia said he had a GAA of 1.17 that season for the Caps.

Posted by: TheFingerman | August 8, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

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