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5 Things to Know About New Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell

Head Coach Kevin O'Connell
Head Coach Kevin O'Connell

EAGAN, Minn. – The Vikings have named their 10th head coach in franchise history.

Minnesota has hired Kevin O'Connell to take the helm. Team announced the hire Wednesday, when new Vikings General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah called O'Connell "a great partner in building this football team for long-term success."

O'Connell most recently was the offensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams, who defeated the Bengals 23-20 Sunday in Super Bowl LVI. He spent the 2020 and 2021 seasons in that role.

"I've been watching the Rams offense for a minute now," Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson recently said. "They get their playmakers the ball, they have tremendous plays, Cooper Kupp is open all the time, so I'm excited for it."

O'Connell, 36, was a member of the 49ers coaching staff (special projects) in 2016 and overlapped that season with new Vikings General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah.

Here are five things to know about the Vikings new head coach:

1. QB before HC

Long before he started coaching, O'Connell had a playing career in the NFL.

He finished his collegiate career at San Diego State with 7,689 passing yards and 46 touchdown passes, both top-five marks in the school's history, and was drafted 94th overall by the Patriots in 2008.

O'Connell learned in New England behind Tom Brady and Matt Cassel and was waived shortly before the 2009 season. He went on to spend time with the Lions, Jets, Dolphins and Chargers.

O'Connell largely spent time on teams' practice squads.

View photos of new Vikings Head Coach Kevin O'Connell in photos from his time with the Rams.

2. O'Connell is a smart cookie

You might be aware that O'Connell graduated from San Diego State University in 2007 with a degree in political science.

But did you know he also earned the highest score on the Wonderlic test at the 2008 NFL Scouting Combine?

There are differing opinions on the weight Wonderlic results should hold, but O'Connell's intelligence is praised anecdotally, too. For instance, former Washington quarterback Joe Theismann, who now calls the team's preseason games and knows O'Connell well, said the Vikings new head coach is "an extremely bright, bright guy."

3. Brief broadcasting career

In between his NFL playing days and his first coaching job in the league, as the Browns quarterbacks coach in 2015, O'Connell pivoted to broadcasting.

He worked for KOGO Radio 600 as the sideline reporter for the SDSU broadcast team and later recorded some TV hits for a local NBC affiliate.

"My number one goal was always to play in the NFL, and if I wasn't able to do that I wanted to coach or be a part of broadcasting," O’Connell said at the time.

4. Advocate for childhood cancer battles

In December, O'Connell participated in the NFL's My Cause My Cleats campaign and donned some custom-painted kicks himself.

He represented Club NEGU (Never Give Up), a nonprofit that supports children fighting cancer and fundraises for pediatric cancer research. The organization was established in memory of Jessica Rees, a seventh grader who passed away in 2012 after a 10-month battle with brain cancer.

5. Son of an agent

No, not that kind of agent.

Players and coaches across the league of course use agents to negotiate and finalize contracts, but O'Connell is the son of a former longtime Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent.

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