Joe Marciano got a taste of what it feels like to be retired. He couldn’t spit it out fast enough.
“When you retire, what I’ve learned is you aren’t in a hurry to do anything,” said the 60-year-old Marciano, making it clear that’s not a feeling he prefers after coaching football every fall since his career began at Wyoming Area (Pa.) High School in 1976.
That explains why the longtime NFL special teams coach jumped on a plane to Minnesota when Vikings coach Mike Zimmer offered him the interim special teams coordinator position that will end in mid-September. Marciano, who arrived with the team on Sunday, will work with current special teams coordinator Mike Priefer and assistant special teams coordinator Ryan Ficken throughout the rest of the preseason and then take over for two or three weeks as Priefer serves his team-imposed suspension for making an anti-gay remark to former punter Chris Kluwe in 2012. Priefer can reduce the suspension from three games to two if he completes sensitivity training.
“First of all, to be honest with you, I’m not here to replace Mike Priefer,” Marciano said. “You don’t replace Mike Priefer. I’ve known him a long time. He’s as fine a coach and fine an individual as there is.
“He has such command in that room. The players respect him. When Coach Zim called me and asked if I was interested, I mean, no doubt, I would be interested. Can I retire? Yeah. Do I want to retire? No.”
Marciano spent six seasons in the college ranks, working his way up from East Stroudsburg State to Rhode Island, Villanova, Penn State and Temple. In 1983, he joined the USFL, winning a couple of league titles with the Philadelphia Stars.
In 1986, Marciano joined the Saints as special teams and tight ends coach. For nine seasons, he coached special teams and tight ends in New Orleans. In his 10th and final season with the Saints, he focused only on special teams.
From there, Marciano coached special teams for six years at Tampa Bay and the past 12 with Houston.
“I think I’ll be coaching somewhere next year, whether it’s in the pros or in college,” Marciano said. “There’s a lot of good coaches out of work. I’m not the first coach to be out of work. I’ve been fortunate for 27 years to choose where I wanted to work. That’s awfully, awfully fortunate.
“I believe I’m a good coach. [Former Texans defensive coordinator] Wade Phillips is a good coach. He belongs somewhere. When your numbers aren’t good and you go 2-14, that’s what happens.”
Marciano said he’ll lean on Ficken during his brief stint without Priefer.
“Mike’s way works,” Marciano said. “There are many ways to skin a cat. I’m not here to invent the wheel. For the short period of time that Mike’s going to be out, coach Ficken and I are going to be shoulder pad to shoulder pad, side by side and continue to build on what he has set here.”
Marciano said he decided to become a special teams coach long ago as a way of standing out in an area that was just evolving.
“In a nutshell, when I was coaching in college, my college coach went to some NFL camps,” Marciano said. “He said that special teams coaches are in there just to get their foot in the door. But they really want to be the defensive backs coach. They don’t want to be the special teams coach. You master special teams, you can be in this thing for a long time. And he was right. He was right.”
Marciano was asked if accepting this job is his way of letting the NFL know that this 60-year-old isn’t quite finished.
“I don’t know if I’m necessarily telling the league that,” he said. “I’m probably telling the other coaches. Yeah, I’ll be back. I’ll be back either in the NFL or in college. I’m not opposed to going to college, especially if it’s home to Houston. But the right college. Hopefully, I’ll be back. And I’ll be back with a vengeance. I guarantee you that.”