SALISBURY, Md. — A former Salisbury University Seagull is returning to the region as head coach of the NFL’s Washington Commanders.
A 1994 graduate, Dan Quinn was a defensive lineman and two-time co-captain for the SU football team. He was also on the track and field team as a hammer thrower, setting a school record. In 2005, he was inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
Also during his time at Salisbury, he met his future wife, Stacey Quinn. As Mr. Quinn begins his role as the Commanders’ coach, the two look forward to being near where their story began.
“I went to Salisbury University about two hours south of (Landover, where the Commanders are based), and the best part of that was my wife, Stacey,” said Mr. Quinn. “That was the best call I ever made, to say, ‘Hey, you want to go out?’ She said, ‘Yeah.’ And I said, ‘All right.’
“So, 29 years later, here we are. She is my ride or die and has been with me on this football life that has ups and downs, and it’s an absolute awesome life that we share together.”
Mr. Quinn has been coaching football for 21 years. In the NFL, he has worked with the Seattle Seahawks, was the head coach for the Atlanta Falcons and, most recently, ran the defense for the Dallas Cowboys.
In that role, he was voted Assistant Coach of the Year in 2021 by The Associated Press.
All that experience led to his newest spot, as the head coach for Washington.
Commanders general manager Adam Peters explained that it was a long process to find its new leader. But Mr. Quinn was the right person for the job, he said.
“Coach Quinn has all the qualities we’re looking for,” Mr. Peters added. “He’s unquestionably one of the best leaders in the NFL. You can ask anybody who’s been around him — coaches, players. He’s a top-notch communicator, an excellent teacher and developer, not only of players but of coaches.
“He’s smart, he’s driven, and he’s really, more than anything, a phenomenal person and just a great, great person who’s going to lead this team the right way.”
Mr. Quinn said he is determined to show the Commanders community that he’s ready to lead the team to success.
“As a coach, you prepare for it, you study for it, and there’s some lessons that you can’t study for. There’s lessons that you just have to live,” he said. “Sometimes through success and sometimes also through adversity, but once you learn those lessons, all you want to do is grab them and run and prove it.
“So, let me tell you, I am ready to run and prove it.”
And Salisbury University is also ready to show support for a fellow Seagull, including Sherman Wood, the head football coach there.
“Dan has proven to be one of the brightest minds in the NFL, and we are thrilled to see him lead such a storied franchise as the Commanders,” he said. “He not only possesses the knowledge that the position requires, but he is a great leader of men, and I believe he will be a great success with the Commanders.”
Now, Coach Quinn is ready to get things rolling for his new team, which finished the 2023-24 season with a record of 4-13. He first wants to build trust with each person involved with the Commanders organization.
“I know you’re just starting to know me, and that’s going to take some time because (of) building trust, ... but I can’t wait to start earning it,” he said at a press conference Monday. “That includes the players. It includes the staff, every single man, woman in this organization, and each and every fan because that is who makes up the entire Washington Commanders team — all of us.”