Chargers Coach Anthony Lynn speaks at a news conference at the NFL scouting combine on March 2 in Indianapolis.
Anthony Lynn, the Chargers’ new head coach, has been surrounded by well-wishers all over the grounds of the Arizona Biltmore. From the coaches he’s worked for to the reporters who covered him to the owners with who he’d interviewed, everyone — to use Lynn’s word — has been “cool.”
But breakfast Tuesday morning? That was just plain cold.
His scrambled eggs were pushed around the plate, and the breakfast potatoes, a slice of bacon and oatmeal were all untouched after speaking with reporters for an hour during the AFC’s coaches breakfast.
“Next year,” he said, laughing, “I’m getting here earlier.”
Maybe the biggest lesson Lynn has learned in his first months as an NFL head coach is that you never know when you’re going to learn a big lesson.
None of the words shared by his colleagues stuck out as profound, job-changing ideas. But Lynn said he knows that when situations arise, the things he’s learned during the league’s annual meeting will surge to the surface.
“It’s always been a huge brotherhood, but it’s even tighter when you get here with these other 31 coaches,” he said. “All they want to do is help you, give you advice and [help you] learn from their mistakes and success.”
It’s not a feeling he’s getting too used to because the goodwill has very defined limits.
“Game day is a friendly handshake, and then, it’s all about kicking somebody’s … ,” he said, knowing the 31 other coaches feel the same. “Right now, we’re shaking hands, giving advice and mentoring one another.”
It’s a job full of perks not limited to the paycheck. Head coaches, team execs and league owners spent Monday night at a cocktail reception with a fully stocked raw seafood station and free beer, wine and cocktails being served behind a giant bar made entirely of ice.
Oh, and there were fireworks too.
But the journey to top coach, one that took Lynn to six franchises as an assistant over a 16-year span, comes with a cost.
“I think I’m further away from football than I ever have been with all the day-to-day operations of a head coach,” he said. “I think I expected that. It’s still different.”
The brotherhood that Lynn has enjoyed so much in Arizona this week? There are elements you don’t get inside your own building when you’re the top guy, he said.
Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley has his guys. Offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt has his guys, and special teams coordinator George Stewart has his.
“There are some days I come into the office, and Ken has his group, Gus has his group, George Stewart has his group, and I’m kind of twiddling my thumbs,” Lynn said. “No one wants you to come into their meetings because you come in and start changing too many things. I used to be a guy who hated when a coach would come in. I try to stay out and let them do their things because they’re great coaches.”
Instead of getting in the “room with his guys,” which he said he misses most, Lynn is immersed in everything, including the upcoming draft.
On Tuesday, he was asked about selecting a quarterback, and Lynn didn’t shy away from speaking his mind.
“I think we do have to get a young quarterback on campus. We have to start developing someone because we have two veteran quarterbacks,” Lynn said, referring to Philip Rivers, 35, and Kellen Clemens, 33. “Both of them are long in the tooth. I think they have some good years left in them — don’t get me wrong — but you have to start thinking about down the line too.”
Lynn’s been thinking down the line for years, planning and working for his shot at running his own football team.
“I did think I’d get a chance. I thought it would be a lot sooner, but I did think it’d eventually come,” he said. “It was a passion. It was something that was on my heart and something I worked a lot of hours trying to accomplish. Usually it works out. If you do the right things and work your … off, usually it works out.”
And when it doesn’t work out? You walk away from the table, belly empty, with a plate of cold food left behind.
Follow Dan Woike on Twitter @DanWoikeSports