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Late For Work 1/22: OC Candidate Kirby Wilson Fought For Life After House Fire


Wilson Fought For Life After House Fire

How can you not like Kirby Wilson?

Let me rephrase that. Other than currently being a Steeler, how can you not like Kirby Wilson?

Wilson is Pittsburgh's running backs coach, and the man who is scheduled to interview this week with John Harbaugh for the Ravens' vacant offensive coordinator position.

Active. Animated. Energetic. Emotional. Authentic. Leader.

Those are the words coaches, players and family members use to describe Kirby. At his first practice as a Steeler, he was seen running down the field after his running backs, screaming at them the whole way. And they loved him for it.

But after five years at the post, Wilson was seriously injured.

"You've got to always count your blessings, not your problems. To me, it's a blessing that I'm still alive," Wilson told NFL Films. "I got a story to tell."

The story?

Wilson was reportedly in line to become the Steelers offensive coordinator in January 2012, but a fire broke out at his Pittsburgh home 48 hours before the team's AFC wild-card loss.

At 3 a.m., Wilson was sleeping and was caught in the fire. He sustained severe lung damage and second- and third-degree burns to nearly half his body. He got out of the house, but neighbors said his skin looked like wax falling off his body.

Instead of taking over the Steelers offense, Wilson was in a coma, fighting for his life.

Watch the must-see ESPN video below, detailing Wilson's fight and return to coaching. It's both remarkable and inspiring. (Mobile users tap "View in Browser" at the top of the page.)

'Surprised' Steelers Granted Wilson Permission To Interview

That's how NFL Network's Ian Rapoport described the Steelers' decision to allow Wilson to interview with their arch rival.

The Steelers could have blocked Wilson from interviewing with the Ravens since the job isn't to become a head coach. ESPN's Scott Brown said he was "surprised" by the move.

"Wilson is eminently qualified for the job, and he probably would have been promoted to offensive coordinator in Pittsburgh had he not been badly burned in a house fire," Brown wrote. "The guess here is that Mike Tomlin does not want to deny Wilson, who has been with him since 2007 in Pittsburgh, an opportunity given how loyal Wilson has been and what he persevered through to return to coaching."

What Each Candidate Brings To Table

Harbaugh revealed to our own Garrett Downing four of his offensive coordinator candidates: Wilson, Wide Receivers Coach Jim Hostler, former Redskins Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan and former Lions Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan.

Most of these men are fairly unknown to Ravens fans, so let's try to sum up what each brings to the table.

Hostler = maintains continuity, one-time offensive coordinator
"Hostler has been considered one of the favorites for the job since Caldwell's departure, largely because of Harbaugh's history of promoting from within," says The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec and Aaron Wilson. "Multiple NFL sources at this week's Senior Bowl said that they believe Hostler is likely to get the job though Harbaugh is still mulling a decision. … Hostler has a good relationship with several of the Ravens' offensive standouts, including quarterback Joe Flacco, and he's gotten high marks for his work with young receivers like Torrey Smith and Marlon Brown."

Wilson = can revive run game, no offensive coordinator experience"The hiring of Wilson certainly would reaffirm the Ravens' commitment to fixing their running game, which hit a franchise low this season in total yards," Zrebiec wrote. "Wilson has spent the past seven seasons coaching the running backs for Pittsburgh, an organization that has long advocated a physical and downhill running attack."

Shanahan = success with zone blocking, young play-caller "Shanahan's offenses in both Houston and Washington have also been extremely productive ranking in the top 10 in the NFL in total yards four times in his six seasons," Zrebiec wrote. "Shanahan has also had significant success with the zone-blocking scheme, also advocated by Ravens' offensive line coach Juan Castillo."

Linehan = pass-happy, most experienced and proven track record"Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco better start loosening his arm in case the team hires Scott Linehan as offensive coordinator," Vensel wrote. "[Linehan] called plays – including some occasional runs – for the NFL's pass-happiest offense in recent years."

Poll Results: Who Should Take Pay Cut?

Six players reportedly account for 55 percent of the Ravens' 2014 salary cap, and ESPN's Jamison Hensley wants to know who is "most deserving” of a pay cut.

Below are five of the six players (Joe Flacco was not listed as an option), their reported 2014 salary, and votes for a pay cut.

  • Haloti Ngata, $8.5 million, 30 percent of voters says he should take a pay cut
  • Terrell Suggs, $7.8 million, 40 percent
  • Lardarius Webb, $7.5 million, 7 percent
  • Marshal Yanda, $5.5 million, 2 percent
  • Ray Rice, $4 million, 21 percent

What do you think?

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