Dean Pees Tells Ravens He's Retiring From NFL


One of the game's brightest defensive minds is stepping away, and he'll leave a great legacy.

Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees informed the Ravens during the Monday morning team meeting that he is ending his 45-year coaching career to spend more time with his family.

Pees, 68, has been coaching in the NFL for the past 15 years, split between the New England Patriots and Ravens. He came to Baltimore in 2010 and became the team's defensive coordinator in 2012, the year they won Super Bowl XLVII.

And now he plans to take a long-awaited vacation.

"After 45 years of football, 680 games and over 6,000 practices, I've decided to retire from coaching," Pees told the media. "It's been a great, great run, and I'm very, very proud of the 45 years and what I've been able to accomplish."

Of Pees' 10 years as an NFL defensive coordinator, his defenses ranked in the top 10 six of those years. That success rate ranks among the best coordinators of the past three decades, right alongside Jim Bates, Monte Kiffin, Dave Campo and Marvin Lewis.

The Ravens ranked in the top 10 from 2014 through 2016. This year, they landed at No. 12 overall in yards per game, but sixth in points per game (18.9) and led the league in takeaways.

This year, he was given a game ball after the Ravens shut out the Green Bay Packers in Lambeau Field. Later this month, Pees will be honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the University of Findlay, where he first began his professional coaching career.

"We love Dean. I love Dean. Great person, great coach. Innovator, thorough, mentor, teacher and friend," Head Coach John Harbaugh stated. "How fortunate for us to have him with the Ravens. Look at his record. It is historically good."

Pees said his professional accolades are all great, but they don't mean as much to him as his relationships with his fellow coaches and players.

After Sunday's season-ending loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, several players said they wished Pees would come back, but understood his decision.

"That's an emotional one," safety Lardarius Webb said. "I spent eight years with Dean Pees. Everything I know is because Dean Pees. He's a great one. He's one that I believe should have a statue."

"A lot of respect for him. I love him as a coach and as a man," linebacker C.J. Mosley added. "He had a long career, way before I was born. The things he did for this organization and for the NFL, you have to give credit to him."

First of all, he was just a good human being. Pees said one of the two things he's most proud of during his career is that he never had a confrontation with a player because he would have held himself responsible.

Safety Eric Weddle said Pees listened. When players would give feedback, he respected their opinion, even if he didn't always take it. When things didn't go right, Pees never threw his players under the bus and owned his mistakes.

"Dean is a father figure to a lot of us," Weddle said. "The love and respect and the passion he's given myself and the players of this organization during his time here has been upmost."

Pees' phone has been blowing up with text messages from former players, including some of the greats like Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Haloti Ngata and others.

One in particular stuck out to Pees. It came from a player he kicked off the team at Kent State. The former player has gone on to do great things, and he thanked Pees for being the first person in his life to stand up to him, while doing so in a matter-of-fact way, because it taught him accountability.

"It's the way he respects the players," veteran linebacker Albert McClellan said. "He respects everything that we did. He demanded great effort from us, but he always respected us."

Players also respect Pees for his knowledge of the game, which would be difficult for anyone to match. He's coached at every level, from high school, every level of college to the NFL.

Pees worked for some of the greatest coaches, including Gary Pinkel, Lou Holtz, Nick Saban, Bill Belichick and Harbaugh. Harbaugh was actually one of Pees' players back when Harbaugh was a defensive back at Miami (Ohio).

That encyclopedia of experience and knowledge showed itself in Pees' versatile, disguising schemes.

"Ever since I got here, there was something different about him," rookie cornerback Marlon Humphrey said. "I've been some really successful places with Alabama and my high school, but his attention to detail is different from what I've been around."

"He studies his butt off night and day and it shows," safety Tony Jefferson added. "He's a mastermind."

For Pees, the thought of retiring began last year. He has seen other coaches around the NFL and in his life step away for health reasons, and Pees wanted to do so before his health declined.

It was hammered home by the death of good friend and former Ravens Defensive Line Coach Clarence Brooks, who passed away after a long battle with cancer in September of 2016. Brooks was planning to retire to Florida with his wife and died at 65 years old.

"That hit me hard," Pees said. "I started thinking about the rest of my life, and how many more years do any of us have? I want to spend those years quality."

Pees and his wife, Melody, have six children and 10 grandchildren. He said he missed out on a lot with his own children while working the long hours of being a football coach, and he doesn't want to do the same with his grandchildren.

But what he's looking forward to most is spending time with the person he thanked first, and that's Melody. They went on their first vacation together just three years ago, and it's time for more.

"I feel like most of the time in my 45-year football career has probably come first and everything else second," Pees said. "It's time that changes."

The Ravens will now have to find a new defensive coordinator, either from within or outside the organization. But Harbaugh knew this day would be coming at some point, and he said he has total respect for Pees' decision.

In 45 years, Pees has never been fired, and he never will be. It's one of the things he's most proud of.

"He and Melody have the best family, and we know they are looking forward to creating more special times in their lives," Harbaugh said. "All of us at the Ravens will miss Dean and his exceptional coaching."

So what will Pees do on Sundays now?

"Root for the Ravens!" he said. "I wanted to retire a Raven, so I'll be cheering for the Ravens."

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