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'Football has been my entire life': Texans' Romeo Crennel retiring after 50 years of coaching

"Romeo retires as one of the most respected figures in NFL history. His incredible resume and contributions to the game of football will be difficult to duplicate."

HOUSTON — After 50 years of coaching football, the Houston Texans' Romeo Crennel announced his retirement on Monday.

“Football has been my entire life and it’s been a dream come true to coach for 50 years,” Crennel said in a statement. "I’ll miss everything about coaching and teaching, but the thing I’ll miss the most is being around the guys every day." 

Editor's note: The above video originally aired in 2020 when Crennel was named interim head coach of the Houston Texans.

At 74, Crennel leaves the game as one of the most decorated assistant coaches in NFL history. He coached in 17 playoff appearances with 13 division crowns, six conference titles. His teams have won five of the six Super Bowls he's appeared in, two with the New York Giants, and three with the New England Patriots.

Crennel spent his last eight seasons with the Houston Texans where he served as defensive coordinator from 2014-16, assistant head coach, 2017-19, associate head coach and then interim head coach, both in 2020. 

Former Texans defensive star J.J. Watt is among the players paying tribute.

"Absolute legend of the game and even better man," Watt tweeted.

When he was named interim head coach, Crennel, who was 73 at the time, became the oldest person in NFL history to serve as a head coach in a game.

Last season, he was named senior advisor for football performance.

"My goal was to put every player and coach in the best position to succeed and I consider every guy I coached or worked with a part of my family," Crennel said.

“My family and the entire Houston Texans organization would like to congratulate Romeo Crennel on his historic coaching career,” said Texans Chair and CEO Cal McNair. “After 50 seasons, Romeo retires as one of the most respected figures in NFL history. His incredible resume and contributions to the game of football will be difficult to duplicate.

"Romeo poured everything he had into his players and led his teams with hard work, diligence and integrity. He has impacted and influenced so many players, coaches and staff members over the last five decades and we’re honored he spent the last eight seasons with us," McNair said. "Our organization is better because of Romeo Crennel in so many ways. He will always be a Texan and we wish him, his wife Rosemary and his family nothing but the best in all that retirement brings.”

The Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) awarded Crennel the 2020 Paul "Dr. Z" Zimmerman Award for lifetime achievement as an assistant coach.

In 2003, he was named the NFL Assistant Coach of the Year by the Pro Football Writers of America after leading a Patriots defensive unit that allowed a league-low 14.9 points per game.

Before joining the NFL coaching ranks, Crennel coached college ball at Texas Tech from 1975-77, Mississippi in 1978-79 and Georgia Tech in 1980.

He was a four-year starter for Western Kentucky where he earned MVP honors his senior year. 

Crennel thanked the team owners, fans and friends who supported him throughout his career, along with his wife and three daughters. 

"Because of their love and selflessness, I have been able to live out my dream. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to spend more time with my grandchildren while staying around the game of football.”

The Crennels have eight grandchildren.

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