Baltimore Ravens fans and players alike have to be dreading the day that Don Martindale potentially leaves town.
Martindale is in his third year as the Ravens’ defensive coordinator, and he could be a head coach in the coming years. Some know Martindale as ‘Wink,’ but his nickname has nothing to do with his eyes.
Don Martindale is the Baltimore Ravens’ defensive coordinator
Originally from Dayton, Ohio, Don Martindale began his coaching career at Defiance College (Ohio) in 1986.
Martindale climbed through the college ranks and eventually became the defensive coordinator at Western Illinois in 1999. A year later, Martindale joined Jack Harbaugh‘s staff at Western Kentucky as the defensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach.
Jack’s son, John, has been the Ravens’ head coach since 2008. Another son, Jim, coached the San Francisco 49ers from 2011-14 and has been at Michigan since 2015.
Martindale joined the Ravens as their linebackers coach in 2012 and held that role through the end of the 2017 season. Baltimore promoted Martindale to defensive coordinator beginning with the 2018 campaign.
Martindale could be a head coach soon
Don Martindale is no spring chicken, and he turns 58 on May 19.
Despite his age, Martindale has been linked to numerous head coaching vacancies in recent years. Martindale interviewed with the New York Giants in January 2020, days after the team fired Pat Shurmur.
The Giants hired Patriots special teams coordinator and wide receivers coach Joe Judge later that month. New York went 6-10 in Judge’s first year at the helm.
According to SNY, Martindale called the opportunity to interview a “great experience.”
“The thing of it is, like I told you before the head coaching stuff came up, it would have to be a job — that one-of-a-kind type job, not any job — to leave this place because, as I said before, we have the best owner, we have the best head coach, we have the best personnel and, most importantly, we have the best group of players assembled in that locker room that lift each other up. When you prepare to go do something like that, for an interview, it’s like you’re playing on house money — it really is — because of how much we love it here. I also know that you can’t just snap your fingers and create that type of culture that we have here now.”
Martindale had not yet publicly interviewed with a team in the 2020-21 coaching cycle as of Jan. 9, 2021.
Don Martindale is named “Wink” for a special reason
Some know Don Martindale by his real name, and others refer to him as ‘Wink.’
Martindale’s nickname has nothing to do with his eyesight. Martindale earned his nickname in reference to Winston “Wink” Martindale, a DJ and game show host who hosted several shows from 1972 through 1998.
The veteran coach told The Baltimore Sun in 2018 that he earned his nickname in college. That timeline makes sense, given that the non-coach was still hosting game shows and amid the prime of his career.