NY Jets coach Eric Mangini is no different.
According to a story in this weekend's New York Times, Mangini finished his college playing career (he was an undersized, overachieving nose guard), coached in Australia for awhile, returned home to do some substitute teaching at local schools, before setting a lofty goal: Become an NFL head coach.
He called his former college coach who had moved on and was coaching with the Cleveland Browns. His old coach helped Mangini land a job with Cleveland's PR department. From there, he started working as a Browns ball boy -- picking up "jocks and socks" -- before eventually becoming Bill Belichick's administrative assistant.
During training camp in 1994, Mangini performed whatever job the team required. He moved blocking sleds during practice, washed laundry, fetched coffee for the coaches, cleaned the locker room. At one point, his mother tried to intervene. “My mom is looking at me thinking, ‘You’re 23, you have a degree from Wesleyan University, and you’re a ball boy,’ ” Mangini said.
He worked his way up to an assistant coach on the Browns staff, worked briefly for the Ravbens, then joined Belichick in New England as the team's DBs coach and, later, defensive coordinator where he helped the Pats win a couple Super Bowls.
In January 2006, at the age of 35, he was named head coach of the New York Jets.