Many college footballers leave school with the hopes of getting drafted into the NFL, but Jim Caldwell is one of the few who entered into coaching instead. His career as a coach has spanned over four decades and during that time period, Caldwell has coached NFL teams like the Indianapolis Colts, Baltimore Ravens, and Detroit Lions.

He has won two Super Bowl titles (Super Bowl XLI and XLVII) as a coach. Here is a look at Caldwell’s career over the years and more.

Jim Caldwell Bio

Coach Jim was born James Caldwell on January 16, 1955, in Beloit, Wisconsin, a small town that shares borders with Illinois. He attended Beloit (WI) Memorial high school where he began playing football. After high school graduation, Caldwell enrolled in the University of Iowa in 1973. He would spend his next four years at the school playing as a defensive back for the varsity Iowa Hawkeyes.

Jim graduated from Iowa in 1976 and the following year, in 1977, he began his coaching career serving as a graduate assistant at Iowa. Caldwell would spend the next 15 years honing his coaching skills as a graduate assistant at various colleges including; Southern Illinois University where he served as the wide receivers coach, Northwestern University as the Offensive assistant, the University of Colorado at Boulder and the University of Louisville as the Wide receivers coach, and Pennsylvania State University as the Quarterbacks coach.

And then came 1993 and Caldwell was offered his first head coaching job at the private independent university, Wake Forest University. Caldwell made history by landing that job as he became the first black American coach to ever coach a team in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC).

With a wealth of experience in attack, Caldwell immediately created an impact at Wake Forest and became well known. Many began referring to him as the offensive guru.


In 1999, his penultimate year at Wake Forest, Caldwell lead the Demon Deacons to win the Aloha Bowl title. He may have had just one successful year with the Deacons, but Caldwell’s skills with attack attracted to him the attention of the then head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tony Dungy who would offer him his first NFL coaching job as the Quarterbacks coach for the Buccaneers.

When Dungy moved to Indianapolis Colts in 2002, he took Caldwell along. And together, they won the Super Bowl XLI. After the great Dungy retired in 2008, Caldwell was named as his immediate successor. In his debut season in 2009, Caldwell finished with a record 14-2 which still ranks among the best for a coach’s rookie NFL season.

Caldwell lead the Colts to the Super Bowl XLIV but lost to the New Orleans Saints. Since then, no other rookie coach has reached the Super Bowl, at least as of Super Bowl LII.

Caldwell’s performance began to dip by the third season which was partly due to the absence of their star quarterback, the now-retired Peyton Manning. He was fired in 2011, after which he spent one year (2012 – 2013) at the Baltimore Ravens as the Quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator. Caldwell’s offensive skill was pertinent in helping the Ravens win the Super Bowl XLVII against the San Francisco 49ers.

In January 2014, Caldwell broke a record again by becoming the first black American coach to become the head coach of the Detroit Lions. Caldwell was fired after three seasons with the Lions on new year’s day in 2018.

Why Was He Fired?

Jim Caldwell’s job at the Lions was first threatened in 2015 after the team greatly underperformed posting a 1-7 record, but Caldwell was able to salvage his job after a historic win against the Green Bay Packers.

Caldwell has been credited with bringing a revolution to the way the Lions play, however, the team’s new General Manager, Bob Quinn was not satisfied with the fact that the Lions were unable to win in top competitions. The final straw was when the Lions were eliminated from the postseason, losing to the Cincinnati Bengals. A day after the season had ended, the news of Calwell’s firing hit the airwaves.

Despite his relatively unsuccessful seasons at Lions, Caldwell was the team’s most successful coach since Buddy Parker. He left with a winning percentage of (.563).

Following his firing, Caldwell said that he was open for a job but won’t go around hunting.

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His Contract, Salary and Net Worth

As Caldwell’s career has progressed over the years, so has his salary which often times is concealed from the public. According to unconfirmed sources, Caldwell earned a salary of $4 million during his early years with the Detroit Lions.

Caldwell was signed by the Lions to a multi-year contract extension around August 2017, ESPN revealed in early December of the same year. However, while the extension was initially perceived as a job security for Caldwell who had been placed in the hot seat since 2015, an ESPN source explained that the contract actually provided less job security as it meant that should the team decide to fire Caldwell, he would only be guaranteed payment for the 2018 season.

Jim Caldwell’s net worth is estimated at $12 million.

Jim Caldwell’s Wife

Jim Caldwell wife
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Jim Caldwell has been married to his wife, Cheryl for over 4 decades. They met when they were in their teens (15 years to be precise) and have remained together ever since.

Caldwell and his family have maintained a relatively low profile over the years. In an interview with the Oakland Press in 2014, Cheryl revealed that her husband, throughout his years as a coach never came home with frustration from losing a game.

Together, the couple founded The Caldwell Foundation in 2009. The organization is aimed at helping kids to access digital education.

Caldwell and Cheryl share four kids together; including sons Jimmy, Jermaine, Jared and daughter, Natalie. Both Jimmy and Natalie played college sport; the former playing football and the latter basketball. Jimmy has at least two kids with his wife, making Jim Caldwell a grandfather.

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