Chicago Bears promote Indian American Sean Desai as defensive coordinator

Sean Desai
Sean Desai, photo credit: Chicago Bears

Sean Desai becomes the first NFL coordinator of South Asian and Indian descent.

Chicago Bears Safeties Coach Sean Desai was promoted to the role of defensive coordinator on Friday, becoming the first NFL coordinator of South Asian and Indian descent

Desai will replace former defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano, who announced his retirement following the Bears’ first-round wildcard playoff loss to the New Orleans Saints.

“We are very fortunate and excited to promote from within and announce Sean Desai has been named defensive coordinator for our football team,” Bears coach Matt Nagy said. “He is a person of high football intelligence, extremely detail-oriented, has a very strong work ethic and I cannot think of someone more deserving to lead our defense.”

The Indian American’s promotion is especially notable considering his age. At 37, Desai will be one of the league’s youngest defensive coordinators. In fact, there are only three other coordinators younger than him. However, that’s not to say the newly promoted Desai lacks experience for the role, having spent six seasons as the Bears’ defensive quality control assistant and two seasons as safeties coach.

READ: Memphis Grizzlies hire Indian American Sonia Raman as assistant coach (September 24, 2020)

Prior to his role with the Bears, Desai worked with Boston College, serving a short stint in 2012 as the running backs and special teams coordinator. Before that he served as the assistant director of football operations at the University of Miami in 2011. He also served as defensive and special teams coach for Temple University from 2006 until 2010, his first coaching job.

Desai is an alumnus of Temple, from where he earned a doctorate in educational administration in May 2008. He also served as an adjunct professor at Temple in 2009 and 2010, teaching master’s and doctoral courses in education administration.

Several members of the Indian American community congratulated Desai on the new role.

“As a die-hard Chicago Bears fan, a person of South Asian and Indian descent, and as an American, I’m thrilled by the news that the Bears have chosen Sean Desai as their new Defensive Coordinator, making him the first coordinator of South Asian and Indian descent in NFL history,” said Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, who represents Illinois’ 8th congressional district, in the Chicago suburbs, in the U.S. House of Representative. “I’m excited for what this means for the Bears’ chances next year, but also its significance to the league and to the countless young people aspiring to follow in Sean’s footsteps.”

“Yes! This is huge, congratulations @SeanADesai,” tweeted South Asians in Sports, a network of sports industry professionals, primarily of South Asian heritage.

Desai is the second Indian American to be hired as coach by a major U.S. professional sports team in five months. In September, NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies hired Indian American Sonia Raman as an assistant coach.

Previously, Raman had served as the head coach of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) women’s basketball team.

There are two other Indian American coaches in the NBA: Vin Bhavnani of Oklahoma City Thunder and Roy Rana of Sacramento Kings, which is owned by Indian American Vivek Ranadive.

Last month, Baltimore resident Suyash Mehta became the first Indian American official to be named a full-time NBA referee.


Suyash Mehta becomes NBA’s first Indian American referee (December 24, 2020)

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