Following a fruitful nine-year playing career, Mike Mularkey enjoyed a 25-year run as an NFL coach, winning Assistant Coach and Offensive Coordinator of the Year honors during his time on the sideline. On Friday, the 58-year-old Mularkey, who spent the 2019 season as the Falcons' tight ends coach, announced his retirement from coaching via the team's official website.
"I've been blessed to do this for a long time and have a lot of great memories from the game I love," Mularkey said. "I've also missed a lot of time with my family who I love and who has supported me so much throughout my career. I am looking forward to spending even more time with them and making even more memories."
"What an awesome career for Mike," Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. "When you look back at his 25-year coaching career, you'll not only see a great coach, but you'll also see an unbelievable human being and leader. Mike has been a great asset for our organization and for me personally. We wish he and his family well and congratulate him on a well-deserved retirement."
A ninth-round pick in the 1983 NFL Draft, Mularkey played tight end for the Vikings from 1983-88 and with the Steelers from 1989-91. After making just seven career starts for the Vikings, Mularkey was an immediate starter in Pittsburgh, logging 35 starts in 39 games with the Steelers. He made his first career postseason start during his first season with the Steelers, as Pittsburgh upset the Oilers in the wild-card round of the AFC playoffs.
Mularkey broke into the NFL as a coach in 1994, serving as the Buccaneers' tight ends coach for two seasons. He held the same position in Pittsburgh from 1996-2000 before taking over as the team's offensive coordinator in 2001. In Mularkey's first season as OC, the Steelers' offense enjoyed standout seasons from running back Jerome Bettis and quarterback Kordell Stewart. Bettis led the NFL in rushing through 11 games while averaging 4.8 yards per carry before an injury ended his regular season. Stewart, who spent over two seasons on the bench before Mularkey's promotion, enjoyed a career resurgence, setting a then-franchise record for completion percentage in a single season.
Mularkey's success in Pittsburgh ultimately landed him his first head coaching opportunity with the Bills in 2004. After winning nine games during his first season in Buffalo, Mularkey resigned after the 2005 season following disagreements with management. He then spent six seasons as an assistant in Miami and in Atlanta, earning Assistant Coach of the Year honors in 2008 and Offensive Coordinator of the Year in 2010. While his success in Atlanta earned him his second opportunity as an NFL head coach, Mularkey lasted just one year in Jacksonville, as the team struggled through a 2-14 season in 2012.
After a year away from coaching, Mularkey returned to the sideline in 2014, serving as an assistant coach in Tennessee before being promoted to interim head coach during the 2015 season. Mularkey, who was named the Titans' head coach after the 2015 regular season, led the Titans to consecutive 9-7 regular seasons that included an upset win over the Chiefs in the wild-card round of the 2017 playoffs. Despite his success, Mularkey was relieved of his duties during the ensuing offseason.
Mularkey spent over 19 seasons as an assistant coach and parts of six seasons as an NFL head coach, compiling a 36-53 regular season record while splitting his two postseason contests.