Former Houston Texans defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel announced his retirement Monday.
Crennel, who was the Texans’ 2020 interim coach for 12 games, issued a statement through the team to punctuate his 50 years of coaching, including 39 season in the NFL.
“Football has been my entire life and it’s been a dream come true to coach for 50 years. There are so many friends to thank who have helped me and supported me throughout my career. I especially want to thank the fans and owners of the New York Giants, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans for allowing me to contribute to the game that I have loved so much for so long. I’ll miss everything about coaching and teaching, but the thing I’ll miss the most is being around the guys every day. 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. I would also want to thank my wife Rosemary and my three daughters, Lisa, Tiffany and Kristine, for all of their support over the years. 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.”
Crennel’s NFL career started with the New York Giants in 1981 and lasted through the 1992 season. Crennel served in a variety of roles from special teams to defensive line, and was part of New York’s victorious Super Bowls XXI and XXV teams under Bill Parcells.
From 1993-96, Crennel followed Parcells to coach the defensive line for the New England Patriots, taking part in the team that appeared in Super Bowl XXXI. Crennel followed Parcells back to New York to coach the Jets’ defensive line from 1997-99.
In 2000, Crennel was the defensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns before going back to New England for a four-season stint under coach Bill Belichick. New England won three Super Bowls over that four-season span, and Crennel earned the NFL Assistant Coach of the Year by the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) after the 2003 campaign.
From 2005-08, Crennel coached the Browns, leading them to a 10-6 finish after the 2007 season.
Crennel was the Kansas City Chiefs’ defensive coordinator from 2009-11 until coach Todd Haley was fired. Crennel took over as interim coach and later was promoted to coach ahead of the 2012 season.
After spending a year out of football, Crennel returned in 2014 as the Texans’ defensive coordinator under rookie coach Bill O’Brien. Crennel served in a variety of roles in Houston as defensive coordinator (2014-16), assistant head coach (2017-19), associate head coach (2020), interim head coach (2020) and senior advisor for football performance (2021).
In 2020, after his promotion to interim coach, a 73-year-old Crennel became the oldest person in NFL history to serve as a coach in a game, a record previously held by former Chicago Bears head coach/owner and NFL co-founder George Halas.
Texans chairman and CEO Cal McNair congratulated Crennel on behalf of his family and the organization, and also stated Crennel was, “one of the most respected figures in NFL history.”
“His incredible resume and contributions to the game of football will be difficult to duplicate,” McNair said. “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. 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.”
Crennel was part of 17 playoff appearances with 13 division crowns, six conference titles and has won five of the six Super Bowls he has appeared in. In recognition of Crennel’s accomplishments, the PFWA awarded him with the 2020 Paul “Dr. Z” Zimmerman Award for lifetime achievement as an assistant coach.