NFL could learn from CFL

CHAD SCARSBROOK -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 10:03 AM ET

Mike Riley reached the top of the coaching mountain in 1999 when he was hired as head coach of the NFL's San Diego Chargers.

"I got a phone call from GM Bobby Beathard talking about the head coaching opportunity (replacing interim coach June Jones), and I went through the whole two-week interview process before they offered me the job."

The Chargers went 8-8 in Riley's first season before disaster struck in the form of a 1-15 campaign in 2000.

"That was as tough as it gets," said Riley. "But I will say this -- we had good leadership on the team. Jim Harbaugh, Junior Seau, Rodney Harrison -- we played in a lot of close games."

Despite the poor season, Riley was given another chance and things started strong for the Lightning Bolts in 2001.

"We drafted (running back) LaDainian (Tomlinson) and we were becoming a pretty good team," said Riley. "But then (receiver) Timmy Dwight got hurt and we were a little thin and didn't have a lot to replace him with. We started 5-2 and couldn't win another game. We felt like we had the makings of the team they have now. In the NFL, there are a lot of close games and we just couldn't finish them."

The Chargers finished the season 5-11 and Riley was relieved of his duties. He was able to catch on with the New Orleans Saints a year later as an assistant coach in charge of the secondary, signing a one-year pact.

Riley was thankful for the opportunity to coach in the NFL but said if it were up to him, he'd spruce up some of the rules a little bit.

"Nobody has great rules in the kicking game like in Canada, I really love the special teams up there," said Riley, who coached the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on two separate occasions. "I think it adds a ton to the game and the strategy. There are some great rules if adapted in the NFL or in college football, would really add a lot."


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