From Hampton to LA and now to Denver, defensive line coach Marcus Dixon is embracing the journey

Rams fans celebrate at Super Bowl Parade in LA (Jackie Walsh/MEDILL)
Rams fans celebrate at the Super Bowl Parade in LA on Wednesday. (Jackie Walsh/MEDILL)

By Ashton Edmunds 
Medill Reports

LOS ANGELES — Marcus Dixon is the only former player and coach from a historically Black university on either of the two Super Bowl LVI teams, the Los Angeles Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals. Dixon played football at Hampton, in the NFL and served as an assistant coach at his alma mater from 2017 through 2020, before getting a shot to return to the league, this time as an assistant defensive line coach for the Rams. 

“It’s a blessing to be here coaching alongside some of the best coaches in the game and working with some of the best players in the league,” Dixon said.

Being a coach in the NFL has always been Dixon’s dream, and he credits his Hampton, Virginia, school for getting him to this point.

“Hampton taught me how to grind, and I carry that same mentality with me now coaching in the NFL,” Dixon said.

The Rome, Georgia, native got his start at Hampton in 2004, starting all four years on the Pirates’ football team and serving as a team captain his last three years. The Dallas Cowboys took a chance on Dixon, signing him in 2008 as an undrafted free agent.

After a short stint in Dallas, he went on to play defensive end for the New York Jets, the Kansas City Chiefs, the Tennessee Titans and the Canadian Football League’s British Columbia Lions. Throughout his time in the NFL, Dixon appeared in 22 games recording 21 tackles, 2.5 sacks, one pass defended, one forced fumble and a fumble recovery. 

Dixon then decided it was time to hang up the cleats and transition to coaching, where he got his first opportunity as a Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellow with the Dallas Cowboys in 2015. The fellowship is named after Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Walsh and is designed to provide NFL coaching experience to minority college coaches, high school coaches and former players. 

In 2021, Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay hired Dixon onto the coaching staff as the assistant defensive line coach. Dixon said he appreciated having coaching veterans, defensive coordinator Raheem Morris and defensive line coach Eric Henderson, on the Rams’ staff.

“Raheem is a mastermind of the game, and he is a mentor of mine,” Dixon said. “Eric really knows the game in and out, so being able to learn from these guys has been great.”

Dixon’s long-term goal is to be an NFL head coach.

“Right now, I want to focus on being the best assistant defensive line coach and take advantage of every opportunity and enjoy every moment, but the ultimate goal is to be a head coach,” Dixon said. 

Following the Super Bowl, Dixon was hired by the Denver Broncos to become their next defensive line coach. 

“Through football, this is my way to reach and pour into others,” Dixon said. “I’m blessed to have the opportunity to coach the game I love.” 

Ashton Edmunds is a sports media graduate student at Medill. You can follow him on Twitter at @ae11__.