LOS ANGELES – Chargers coach Brandon Staley will be on the national stage for the first time on Monday night when Los Angeles hosts the Las Vegas Raiders.
The story will be predictable. How Staley went from Division III defensive coordinator to NFL head coach in five years.
But Staley, 38, who coached the Broncos outside linebackers in 2019, also wants attention to go in another direction. Something that is more personal and real to him.
As the NFL launches its “Crucial Catch” initiative, Staley wants everyone to know about his most important victory — being a cancer survivor after being diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma 14 years ago.
“I wouldn’t be the head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers if it weren’t for my cancer journey. Cancer has been the biggest, if not the biggest, reason why I’m here today.” “I think what cancer does is that it can bring out the best in you. I know it has brought out the best in me.”
Staley was in his first season as a graduate assistant in Northern Illinois in 2007, when doctors discovered a grapefruit-sized tumor on his right lung. The Perry, Ohio, native underwent six months of chemotherapy treatment in Cleveland during the off-season break. This was followed by six weeks of morning radiation sessions in Chicago during the season so that he could continue coaching.
Cancer has affected more than just Brandon. His mother Linda died of breast cancer in 2004. His father, Bruce, had thyroid cancer when Brandon was young and completed treatment for prostate cancer last year.
“You can’t do it on your own. I learned by watching my mom and my dad,” Staley said. “I think it takes so much more to believe in yourself than it takes to beat cancer. Too often, it’s knowing that there are other examples out there that show you you should believe. I watched it with my mom and dad. I was lucky it was personal. “
Jason Staley — Brandon’s twin brother and younger sibling 2 1/2 Minutes — said his brother’s approach to beating cancer has many similarities to his coaching philosophy and buying into those around him.
“He’s always had this special way to make you believe. Every time I talked to him, he explained, This is what’s happening, that’s what I’m doing, and that’s how we’re going to beat it,” Jason Staley he said.
“The way he approached it was very systematic. There were no peaks and valleys. It was one treatment at a time; find what progress you can make, and keep getting stronger and better.”
“His ability to stay in the present and not let it get too big was a catalyst for him. The way he trains his players, don’t let the past affect him. ‘I’m just going to compete, and I’m going to grind this thing into the ground,’ he said, ‘and I’ll be at a great loss if he doesn’t.
Northern Illinois was the first step on the coaching road to the hiring of Staley by the Chargers in January. After a second stint as John Carroll University defensive coordinator in 2016, he was a linebackers coach under Vic Fangio in Chicago and Denver for three years before becoming the Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator in 2020. In one season, the Rams defense went from 13th. Leading the league.
Staley’s communication skills have garnered good reviews from players. Defensive lineman Linval Joseph, who is in his 12th season, said the way Staley explained his systems and philosophy has been his best experience in the league.
Joseph is not the only player to share that sentiment.
“Coach Staley is very open. He brings it to us, his plan. He listens to us, and he sees how we see it. He asks how we see it,” said safety Darwin James. “We’re communicating constantly, and that’s what makes him so great as a coach. It’s not just, ‘Hey, you do it this way.’ These are both ends of the stick.”
Staley’s first win as an NFL coach came on September 12, when the Chargers defeated the Washington football team 20–16 in the fourth quarter. It was also what would have been Linda Staley’s 64th birthday.
“It meant everything. That would have been the 18th birthday we celebrated without him, and this is the first birthday I didn’t feel sad,” said Jason Staley. “As a brother, the best gift he could have was . She loved watching us play sports. “
Jason Staley said his brother has a platform to reach out and inform others about cancer awareness, which is more important than victories and losses on the field, especially during the league’s many cancer awareness events in October.
This was when she was 12 years old, sitting at the kitchen table listening to her mother have breast cancer.
Jason Staley said, “Their goal is for a 12-year-old who got the news in 2021, that he didn’t have the same results as we did.” “From a stage standpoint, what’s most important is her ability to keep my mother’s memory and legacy alive and make a difference.”
The Chargers went 2-1 on Monday night’s game after a thrilling 30-24 win over Kansas City to give them a 2-1 start for the first time in nine years. While Justin Herbert has directed a pair of fourth quarter comebacks this season, the defense, where Staley still calls the plays, has set up the drive with a takeaway.
The Raiders, who are expected to have a large continent of fans at Hollywood Park Stadium, are 3-0 for the first time since 2002. Derek Carr entered the league in the fourth week with 1,203 passing yards and led Las Vegas to two overtimes. wins.
While Staley is still emerging and adjusting to being the head coach of the NFL, he has already helped others through their cancer journey. He met the Chargers season-ticket holder, who was recently diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, during an event in April.
“You need to look at other examples of why you should believe you can do this,” Staley said. “I think hopefully, from me, they can see someone — I’m just a kid from Perry, Ohio. I was in Division III five years ago. You can live your dreams; if you believe in yourself.” So you can do anything you dream of.”