Most of what Scott Turner knew about football as a kid he learned from his father, who helped the Dallas Cowboys win back-to-back Super Bowls as their offensive coordinator from 1991 to 1993 before landing his first head coaching gig in Washington the following year.
“My dad was always watching games, so I’d watch with him, and then I’d ask questions and learn,” Turner told the Carolina Panthers’ website in 2011. “I just learned to love the game. It was a genuine thing, not something that was pushed on me. It’s something we loved to do together, a way to spend time with my dad.”
From a young age, Scott demonstrated an understanding of the game beyond his years. Norv Turner recalled coming home late after a Cowboys loss to the Rams in 1992, when Scott was 10.
“I went up to say good night, and he said, ‘Dad? Why? Why on third and five would you throw a ball for a three-yard gain?” Norv Turner once told The Washington Post. “I said, ‘Sometimes things don’t work out the way you plan ‘em.’ ”
A few years later, as a freshman quarterback at Oakton High, Scott was holding the clipboard on the sideline of a varsity game when he made a suggestion to then-Cougars coach Pete Bendorf. Turner’s advice led to the game-winning touchdown.
“For a 14-year-old kid, he showed me early that he’s got a great understanding,” Bendorf told The Post in 2000. “It’s a strength, but sometimes he has the tendency to overanalyze.”
Turner grew up around NFL players, following his dad around the sidelines at Texas Stadium, RFK Stadium and FedEx Field. In the celebratory locker room after the Cowboys won Super Bowl XXVII in January 1993, Dallas wide receiver Michael Irvin gave him a “World Champions” cap. Turner has fond memories of his years in the D.C. area, too.
“My birthday was always during training camp, and the players would always get me and tape me to the bench or put me in an ice bucket,” he told the St. Paul Pioneer Press in 2015. “They would always mess with me, being the coach’s kid. Brian Mitchell and Terry Allen, they were really the ringleaders, and then other guys would get involved.”
Before his senior year at Oakton, where he eventually was named the starting quarterback, Turner threw passes to Michael Westbrook, Albert Connell and Irving Fryar at Redskins training camp.
“Hanging out at Redskins Park this summer was pretty cool,” Turner said in October 2000. “Throwing to [the Redskins’ wide receivers] gave me some reps while they were working on their routes. It’s an incredible feeling throwing to some of the best football players out there.”
Norv Turner and his wife, Nancy, tried to attend all of their oldest son’s high school games. After each one, Norv would offer his professional and familial opinion of what went right and what went wrong.
“We always talk when I get home,” Scott Turner told The Post. “He tells me what he thinks, what I could have done differently, sometimes about a specific play. He tells me to keep my composure even when things aren’t going too well. I can’t put my head down because all the guys in the huddle look to me to be a leader.”
Redskins owner Daniel Snyder fired Norv Turner 13 games into the 2000 season. Oakton finished 5-5 and missed the playoffs that year. Scott Turner went on to play quarterback, primarily as a backup, at UNLV under former coach John Robinson, who had hired Norv Turner as an assistant coach at Southern California in 1976. Scott Turner had always planned to follow in his father’s footsteps.
“There was never a doubt about what I was going to do,” he told Cleveland.com in 2013. “I knew my whole life I wanted to be around football. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else … Playing for John Robinson I felt like I was getting a second degree in football.”
After compiling a 49-59-1 regular season record with the Redskins, Norv Turner served as the offensive coordinator in San Diego and Miami before Oakland gave him another head coaching job in 2004. He was head coach of the Chargers from 2007 until 2012, when he was fired after a 7-9 season. In the meantime, Scott Turner’s coaching career took him from the college level (graduate assistant at Oregon State), to the high school level (offensive coordinator at South County in Lorton), back to the college level (wide receivers coach at Pitt) and eventually to a job as the quality control coordinator for the NFL’s Panthers in 2011.
In 2013, Norv Turner and Scott Turner worked on the same NFL staff together for the first time in Cleveland, where Norv Turner was hired as the offensive coordinator and Scott Turner was hired as the wide receivers coach.
After one season with the Browns, the Turners would work together again in Minnesota from 2014 to 2016, and in Carolina for the past two years under new Redskins coach Ron Rivera. When Carolina fired Rivera in December, Norv Turner moved to a special offensive assistant role and Scott Turner took over as offensive coordinator.
“It never bothered me, but Scott kind of did it the hard way,” Norv Turner told the Pioneer Press of his son’s desire to prove himself elsewhere in the early part of his career rather than taking a position on one of his dad’s coaching staffs. “…I don’t even think of Scott being my son because I know how he got here, and he holds up his part of the deal.”
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