The Atlanta Falcons Have a New Head Coach, but Did He Ever Play Football?


Jan. 26 2024, Updated 10:49 a.m. ET

Raheem Morris during an off-season workout with the Los Angeles Rams.
Source: Getty Images

The Atlanta Falcons shocked many in the NFL when they announced that they would be hiring Raheem Morris as their new head coach. Raheem, who was serving as the defensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams, wasn't the obvious choice for the role, in part because six-time Super Bowl winner Bill Belichick had interviewed for the job.

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Following the news that Raheem would be the team's new head coach, though, many wanted to learn more about him. Fans want to know whether Raheem ever played football, and if he had, at what level. Keep reading for all of the details.

Interim head coach Raheem Morris of the Atlanta Falcons looks on before the game against the Minnesota Vikings on Oct. 18, 2020
Source: Getty Images
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Did Raheem Morris ever play football?

Raheem never played football in the NFL, but that doesn't mean he never played at all. Raheem played college football for Hofstra University as a safety and graduated in 1998 with a physical education degree. He began his collegiate coaching career immediately after graduation, though, understanding that he wouldn't make it to the pros as an athlete. He worked for Hofstra and Cornell, and was also an intern for the New York Jets.

Since then, Raheem has bounced around the NFL and college, taking on a number of different roles largely on the defensive side of the ball. He was named the defensive coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2009, and quickly became the team's head coach after the previous head coach was fired just a month into the season.

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Raheem was the head coach with the Buccaneers for three seasons, going 4-12 his first season, 10-6 his second season, and 3-13 his third season. He was then fired from that job and joined the Washington Redskins. He was briefly the interim head coach for the Falcons before going to the Los Angeles Rams. In January 2024, the Falcons hired Raheem as the head coach, this time with hopes that he'll have a longer tenure.

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Raheem is the first full-time Black coach in the team's history.

Following the announcement that Raheem would be returning to Atlanta, he released a statement making it clear how excited he was about the opportunity.

"I am overjoyed for the opportunity for my family and I to return to Atlanta as the Falcons head coach," he said. "We know from firsthand experience what a first-class organization Atlanta is and what this team means to its city and its fans."

The Falcons finished with a 7-10 record for the 2023 season, and were third in the NFC South, ahead of only a two-in Carolina team. Although Atlanta has had some success during the team's history, it is one of several franchises yet to win a Super Bowl.

Fans hope that Raheem might be able to turn things around and get them into the hunt in the post-season. Given the glut of head coaching options out there, it speaks to the Falcons' faith in Raheem that he earned the job over several candidates who may have, at least on paper, had more impressive resumes.

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