Bidding for Ravens' offensive coordinator job, Kirby Wilson has defied the odds before

The Baltimore Sun

When Ravens coach John Harbaugh spoke to the team's official website yesterday and identified four of the leading candidates for the offensive coordinator job, one name surfaced for the first time: Pittsburgh Steelers running backs coach Kirby Wilson.

Wilson, who is expected to interview with Harbaugh today, weather permitting, is the only one out of the group of four that has never before been an NFL offensive coordinator. However, what he does have is 16 years of NFL coaching experience and a great story of courage and perseverance.

Two days before the Steelers were set to face the Denver Broncos in the 2011 playoffs, Wilson, then 50, was sleeping when a fire broke out in his Pittsburgh-area home.

Wilson made it out of his house but suffered second- and third-degree burns on nearly half of his body, including on his arms and legs.

He was in a medically induced coma and forced to endure an extended stay in the hospital and multiple surgeries and procedures.

However, when the Steelers began their offseason training activities and various minicamps before the 2012 season, Wilson was there, albeit watching the action from a golf cart to stay out of the sun.

When training camp began in July – a little less than seven months after the fire – Wilson was out on the field, running up and down and encouraging the Steelers’ running backs.

The burns that he sustained in the fire and the extended recovery probably cost Wilson a shot at the Steelers’ offensive coordinator job. Wilson’s coaching status was uncertain when Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin decided to replace Bruce Arians with Todd Haley early in 2012.

But they didn’t cost Wilson his spirit for coaching and his resiliency. And now two years later, Wilson could get another shot to run an NFL offense.

Wilson, who has also coached running backs for the New England Patriots, Washington Redskins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Arizona Cardinals, isn’t considered a favorite for the job by those familiar with the process. Several NFL observers at the Senior Bowl this week firmly believe that Ravens wide receiver coach Jim Hostler will get promoted into the job.

However, with all that Wilson has already overcome, it would be foolish to count him out.

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