Longtime NFL coach Steve Wilks was “disappointed but not defeated” after Frank Reich was named the Carolina Panthers’ head coach for the 2023 season, according to a tweet posted to Wilks’ Twitter account Friday.
Wilks served as the team’s interim coach this season after Matt Rhule was fired following a 1-4 start.
“The sun rose this morning and by the grace of God so did I,” the tweet read. “Many people aren’t built for this but I know what it means to persevere and see it through.”
Wilks went 6-6 after taking over for Rhule and could have led the Panthers to an NFC South title had they defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 17.
Wilks being passed over caused a stir around the NFL with Brian Flores’ attorney saying there was a “legitimate race problem in the NFL” with regard to coaching diversity.
Follow every game: Latest NFL Scores and Schedules
OPINION: Steve Wilks is another Black interim coach shown the door
NFL NEWSLETTER:Sign up now to get exclusive content in your inbox
“We are shocked and disturbed that after the incredible job Coach Wilks did as the interim coach, including bringing the team back into Playoff contention and garnering the support of the players and fans, that he was passed over for the Head Coach position by (owner) David Tepper,” Wigdor Law said in a series of posts on Twitter.
Wilks had joined Flores’ class-action suit after his dismissal by the Arizona Cardinals in 2018 after just one season at the helm. Wilks claimed he was “unfairly and discriminatorily fired” by the organization.
Wilks did wish Reich “all the best” in his tweet Friday.
“It was an honor for me to coach those men in the Carolina Panthers locker room as the interim head coach,” the tweet read. “Players, coaches and staff, thank you for your hard work and dedication. I took pride in representing Charlotte, a great city that I love so much. Thank you to my family, friends and community for your overwhelming support.”
Players had been vocally in favor of Wilks’ candidacy to become the Panthers’ permanent head coach during the season. That support appeared to continue even after Reich was announced.
“Nothing but absolute love for this man!” Panthers punter Johnny Hekker posted in a reply to Wilks’ tweet. “Can’t wait to see what his future holds.”
The Panthers will select ninth overall in the 2023 draft.