NFL coaches and Fortune 50 CEOs go head-to-head

01 February 2019

Which job is harder: a CEO or an NFL coach? Korn Ferry asked a bevy of professionals which high-pressure, high-stakes position they'd rather take – and the results may surprise you. 

It’s a hard-knock life for an NFL coach, but the gig is no match for the cutthroat corporate world, according to a survey conducted ahead of Sunday’s Super Bowl by global organizational consulting firm Korn Ferry.

Of the survey’s more than 1,000 business professional respondents, 64% said a Fortune 50 CEO had a “more difficult” job than an NFL coach, but given the choice between occupations, 71% said they’d rather be a CEO.

The survey also examined the on- and off-field leadership of the two competing teams: the Los Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots. Most respondents (58%) believe Patriots head coach Bill Belichick would make the better CEO, while 56% would prefer Rams coach Sean McVay as a boss. Additionally, McVay is a better motivator and more optimistic, the respondents said.

NFL coaches and Fortune 50 CEOs go head-to-head

Patriots superstar quarterback Tom Brady would make a better CEO than Rams quarterback Jared Goff, said an overwhelming 84% of professionals, who also believed that Brady is the better team player and will be the better performer the upcoming game, which last year was watched by 103.4 million people. Like most people in the United States, survey respondents were hesitant to name a job Tom Brady could not do.

It's certainly not all football, all the time, at Korn Ferry, but leadership certainly remains a focus. The firm in early January hired former EY partner Kim Crowley as a senior client partner and global account leader in the life sciences market at its Boston office. In November, the firm appointed Alina Polonskaia as its diversity and inclusion leader,  a position responsible for “designing structures, practices, roles, and responsibilities that facilitate structural and behavioral inclusion.” Several studies have found a correlation between diversity and improved financial performance, so firms are keen to implement such programs, even outside of moral impetus or social pressure. 

It is not currently known if Crowley or Polonskaia are Rams or Patriots fans.


More news on


Former NFL player and coach to become full-time consultant

16 April 2019

Robert Mathis spent 14 years playing for the National Football League (NFL)’s Indianapolis Colts. He is a six-time Pro Bowler and a Super Bowl winner. After retiring, he joined the Colts again, first as a volunteer assistant coach in the 2017 offseason, then to full-time when the season began.

Mathis has now stepped down from his coaching position – but he isn’t done with the Colts just yet. He plans to stay with the team as a pass-rush consultant. “Yeah, he just stepped back to just a consulting role,” Frank Reich, the Colts’ head coach, told reporters. “So still kind of helping on pass-rush stuff, but not full-time. Just periodically coming in, helping. So in spirit still with us.”

Mathis holds a Colts franchise record of 123 sacks and 54 forced fumbles – the most in NFL history. As for his consulting career, Mathis will be on staff at Pro X Athlete, a professional-level training facility which employs several former pro athletes in Westfield, Indianapolis.

The move comes from Mathis’s desire to step away from the playing field and spend more time with his family, according to ESPN. It will also allow Mathis to spend more time with players, should they need it. Under the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement, an assistant coach is limited in the amount of time he or she can spend training athletes during the offseason. This point is moot if players are training with a consultant or trainer, such as those as Pro X Athlete, as they are not officially associated with any team.Former NFL player and coach to become full-time consultant“The Colts have done a great job supporting me,” Mathis told ESPN’s Mike Wells. “I’m still a partner with them. I’m just not a coach with the team anymore. They know my heart is in a good place. They know I have good intentions and that I want the best for them. This is one of the ways I feel like I can help them. It’s a win-win because I still get to do what I’m passionate about in teaching while helping guys on the team I spent my entire career with.”

“It’s a big jump going from playing to coaches. It’s a big commitment,” Reich added. “I think it can be a win-win, where he can still be there and still offer his wisdom and stuff to us at appropriate times and in appropriate ways.”

Mathis’s somewhat lateral move isn’t entirely strange. Professional athletes often stick around their chosen sport after retirement. To do otherwise can prove difficult. While often wealthy, retired athletes are sometimes lost to the wind when it comes to marketable skills that would allow them to enter other areas of business.

EY and Athlete Career Transition (ACT) joined forces to combat this in March 2017, with EY offering “athletes around the globe with professional roles within its global operation, as well as the necessary training and development resources to make the transition possible." 

Related: NFL coaches and Fortune 50 CEOs go head-to-head