If you are a football fan, particularly a Cincinnati Bengals fan, you’ll know exactly who Marvin Lewis is. He accomplished quite a bit in his career, both as an assistant and a head coach. Even though his coaching record is respectable at best, his record in the postseason tells a different story. Despite his lack of success in the games that mattered most, Lewis has become one of the highly respected coaches in the game.
Lewis is known for being defensive-minded and has worked as a linebackers coach for various football teams both at the college and professional level. While he has been out of the NFL for a few years, it may be a matter of time when we’ll finally see Lewis back in the pros coaching for a different team. The real question is: which team will be needing his services?
Let’s take a look now at the life and career of Marvin Lewis.
Marvin Lewis Quick Facts
- Name: Marvin Ronald Lewis
- Birth date: September 23, 1958
- Nicknames: N/A
- Nationality: American
- Siblings: N/A
- Wife: Peggy
- Profession: Football Coach
- Salary: $4.5 million (average through career)
- Net Worth: $14 million
- Social Media: N/A
- AP Coach of the Year (2009)
- Super Bowl Champion (2000)
- NCAA FCS National Champion (1981)
Marvin Lewis was born on September 23, 1958, in McDonald, Pennsylvania (near Pittsburgh). His parents were Marvin Lewis Sr. and Venetta Lewis. The younger Lewis played football starting at the age of nine. When he attended Fort Cherry High School, he played football as a safety and a quarterback.
He also played baseball during the summer months and also played on the wrestling team. While he played a solid career in high school, it wasn’t enough to draw him interest from top football schools.
Originally, Lewis was planning on becoming a walk-on for the Purdue University football team. But his plans changed when Idaho State University offered him a scholarship to play football. He played for the Tigers as a linebacker. He was later inducted into the Idaho State University Sports Hall of Fame and Alumni of the Year in 2012. He graduated from the school with a bachelor’s degree in physical education and later a master’s in Athletic Administration.
Lewis stayed on with Idaho State’s football team as a graduate assistant. He was later promoted to the role of linebackers coach, which he stayed on for four seasons from 1981 to 1984. During his first year with the team, the Tigers won the NCAA Division I-AA National Championship. After his success with the team, he moved on to Long Beach State, where he took the same job.
For the 1986 season, Lewis took over as the linebackers coach for the University of New Mexico. After three seasons, he moved back closer to home and took the linebackers coach job for the University of Pittsburgh Panthers. He stayed in the Pittsburgh area for his new gig as the linebackers coach for the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers.
NFL Coaching Career
From 1992 to 1995, Lewis was the linebackers coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers. When the original Cleveland Browns moved to Baltimore to become the Ravens in 1996, they hired Lewis as the Defensive Coordinator. During his time with the Ravens, he built a defense that became one of the most dominant forces in the league. That domination led to the Ravens winning their first Super Bowl title over the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXXV by a score of 34-7.
The Ravens defense during the 2000 season allowed 970 yards, the fewest yards of any defense. They also allowed the fewest regular-season points with 165. Lewis’ success as defensive coordinator may have sealed the deal for a potential head coaching position.
Since the Super Bowl win, Lewis was considered for multiple NFL head coaching jobs but was passed over. Prior to the 2002 season, Lewis was the likely choice to become the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Before the general manager was ready to formally offer the job, the team owners did not want to give the job to someone who was a defensive-minded coach like their previous coach. Eventually, the job went to Jon Gruden.
The Buffalo Bills had also considered Lewis as their potential head coach but eventually settled on Gregg Williams, who had previously served as the defensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans. Lewis spent the 2002 season as a defensive coordinator for the then-Washington Redskins. He served under then-head coach Steve Spurrier.
Head Coach of the Cincinnati Bengals
Lewis finally got his head coaching gig when the Cincinnati Bengals hired him on January 14, 2003. He was the ninth head coach in the franchise’s history, succeeding Dick LeBeau. The latter was fired after the Bengals posted the worst season in franchise history.
Before being hired by the Bengals, Lewis was interviewed by several teams, including the Bills, Panthers, Browns, and Buccaneers. He was also interviewed by several college football programs but declined them due to his desire to coach in the NFL.
Lewis took over the team at a time when the team fell on hard times in the last decade. Prior to the 1990s, the Bengals were serious contenders for the Super Bowl. During the 2003 season, Lewis finished with an 8-8 season.
He also came into the fold at a time when Carson Palmer became the first overall draft pick for the team. Lewis also coached players including wide receivers T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Chad Johnson, halfback Rudi Johnson, and defensive players Deltha O’Neal and Tory James.
The Bengals bounced back into their winning ways in 2005, posting a record of 11-5 and a playoff appearance for the first time in over a decade. Despite winning the AFC North title, they were ousted from the playoffs by their division rivals and eventual Super Bowl Champions, the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The 2006 season saw the team finishing with a .500 winning percentage at 8-8. Had the Bengals won the last three games, they would have made another playoff appearance. The team continued to decline over the next two seasons, posting losing records in 2007 (7-9) and 2008 (4-11).
The 2009 season saw a turnaround where the Bengals finished up with a 10-6 record. As a result, Lewis was named the AP 2009 NFL Coach of the Year. Despite winning the AFC North title, they were defeated by the New York Jets in the Wild Card round of the playoffs.
The 2010 season saw Lewis post his worst coaching season yet with a 4-12 record. It was the first of two occurrences they finished last in the AFC North while Lewis was the coach. Despite the poor showing, Lewis stayed on after signing an extension in 2011.
During the offseason, the team lost key players to free agency, including Chad Johnson (then known as Chad Ochocino), Terrell Owens, and Jonathan Joseph. To make matters worse, Carson Palmer made it clear that his future didn’t include the team by refusing to play for the team. At one point, Palmer had considered retiring.
This led to Lewis drafting TCU quarterback Andy Dalton in the 2011 NFL Draft. Dalton would become Palmer’s eventual successor when the latter was soon traded to the Oakland Raiders. The Bengals went on to post a 6-2 conference record after nine weeks with Dalton at the helm as quarterback. Dalton had achieved success thanks to his key receiver, AJ Green. Lewis notched his 65th win later that same year, becoming the winningest coach in the history of the Bengals franchise.
The team finished 9-7 and secured the sixth seed in the AFC playoffs. The team lost in the wild card round to the Houston Texans. The following year, Lewis earned a two-year extension. They started the 2012 season with the worst opening day loss to the Baltimore Ravens, 44-13.
The team managed to make it to the playoffs once again after beating the Steelers in a late-season matchup. With the Bengals back in the playoffs, it marked the team’s consecutive playoff appearances for the first time since 1982. Even with a 10-6 record and leading the league with a franchise-record of 51 sacks, history repeated itself with a playoff loss once again to the Texans.
The 2013 season became the most successful for Lewis during his time as head coach. The Bengals secured the AFC North title along with an 11-5 record. However, their bad luck in the playoffs continued when they lost to the then-San Diego Chargers in the Wild Card Round. The team had defeated the Chargers earlier in the regular season. The loss marked the third consecutive playoff loss for the Bengals under Lewis.
In 2014, Lewis was given more power over football operations, despite owner Mike Brown being the de facto general manager and having the final say on football matters. However, Lewis was given the authority over the day-to-day matters.
Later that year, Lewis secured his 100th win in his career. They finished the season with a 10-5-1 record, making the playoffs again for the fourth straight time. They faced off against the 11-5 Indianapolis Colts in the first round, which they shut out in Week 7 earlier that season.
During the wild card game, the Bengals lead the half 13-10. They failed to hold on to the lead and were eventually eliminated by the Colts 26-13. With the loss, Lewis tied with Jim E. Mora for most postseason losses without a single win. Despite rumors that Lewis would be out of a job after the playoff loss, he stayed on after signing another contract extension that would keep him in Cincinnati until the end of the 2016 season.
The 2015 season saw Lewis and the Bengals with their best start ever at 8-0. The team went on to finish with a record of 12-4, which was Lewis’ best record as the head coach. It was also the third time in the team’s history that the Bengals posted a 12-win season.
Once again, the playoffs ended early for the team when they were ousted by the Steelers. During that game, the Bengals held on to a 16-15 lead, but penalties from two of their key defensive players led to the Steelers winning it on a field goal kick. The loss gave Lewis his seventh straight in the playoffs.
The Bengals became the first-ever NFL team to lose five consecutive playoff games. However, things did not get better after that: the 2016 and 2017 seasons ended in losing records. The Bengals finished 6-9-1 in 2016 while they finished 7-9 the following season. They were the first losing records for Lewis since 2010 and the first consecutive stretch of losing seasons since 2008.
Because of Lewis’ failure to advance in the playoffs combined with consecutive losing records, there were signs that the coach would see the end of the line in Cincinnati. However, Lewis returned for the 2018 season. The team was off to a good start posting a 4-1 record by Week 5. When they entered the bye week, their record was 5-3. During the second half of the season, the team lost five straight games, leading to the dismissal of Teryl Austin as the defensive coordinator. Lewis assumed control of the defense for the remainder of the season.
The defense continued to struggle, and the team finished 6-10 and last in their division. The team at that point had suffered three straight losing seasons and failed to qualify for the playoffs yet again. After the end of the 2018 season, Lewis and the Bengals mutually agreed to part ways. Despite his departure, Lewis finished his tenure with a winning record for the first time in 1978 since Bill Johnson had left the team.
Return To College Football
The following year, Lewis decided to return to the college football ranks. He was hired as a special advisor for the Arizona State University Sun Devils in 2019, a position he still holds to this day. In 2020, he was named a co-defensive coordinator.
Google’s ‘USC Error’
As recent as September 2021, there were rumors that Marvin Lewis was slated to become the next head coach of the USC Trojans. The team recently fired Clay Helton and was in search of an immediate replacement. In a search result from Google, it listed Lewis as the head coach. Fansided stated that the hiring of Lewis was “fake news.”
Despite these rumors, it may look as though Lewis may be the name to watch for when the coaching carousels in both college football and the NFL get in full swing during their respective offseasons.
Marvin Lewis Family and Relationships
Marvin Lewis is the son of Marvin Sr. and Venetta. Marvin Sr. passed away sometime in 2014. There is no information on Venetta Lewis on whether or not she may still be alive. Lewis is married to Peggy Lewis, and they have two children. Marvin’s son, Marcus, is currently the running backs coach at Hampton University.
Marvin Lewis Net Worth and Salary
Over the course of his coaching career, Lewis made an average annual salary of $4.5 million per season. His net worth is currently estimated at around $14 million as of 2021.
Marvin Lewis Memorable Quotes
“I don’t care what happens tomorrow afternoon. We aren’t going back to where we were. Those days are over.”
“We’re making plays. But we have to protect the football.”
“This is a key development for our team. It further secures our future with one of our top players in the prime of his career, and I want to commend Chad for his efforts in making it happen. He is showing his commitment to what we have going here.”
“You can’t purposely go out and hurt somebody. I’ve never seen that happen in the NFL. So I don’t think there needs to be any resentment.”
“So when he goes out there on Sunday, he doesn’t get rattled. He’s able to handle the changes, the flow of the game, and make the adjustments.”
“We were very pleased to win the game. It has been a long time coming, and we have a lot to learn from it. Sporadically we did a lot of good things in every area. We are not off to a good start; we just won one football game.”
“He had played and excelled in big games, and at Tampa Bay, he has been a part of a defense that has been a very fine unit for a number of years. We are excited to add him to our roster.”
Marvin Lewis FAQ
Question: Did Marvin Lewis Play in the NFL?
Answer: Marvin Lewis never played in the NFL. His last time playing was as a linebacker for the Idaho State Bengals.
Question: Is Marvin Lewis Still Coaching?
Answer: As of 2021, Lewis is currently the special advisor for the Arizona State University football team. Since his departure for the Bengals, he was interviewed by the Texans, Jets, and Lions for their coaching vacancies in the previous season. However, he has been passed over for these jobs. This may be an indicator that Lewis may be interested in an NFL coaching job in the not-so-distant future.
Question: How Many Times Did Marvin Lewis Make the Playoffs?
Answer: Marvin Lewis made the playoffs with the Cincinnati Bengals seven times during his tenure as head coach. His postseason record is no wins and seven losses. His final playoff appearance was in 2015, where they lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the opening round.
Question: What is the Best Record for the Bengals Under Marvin Lewis?
Answer: The Cincinnati Bengals posted their best record in 2015 of 12 wins and four losses. They won the AFC North Title, their last division title as of today.