Cris Dishman, born and raised in Louisville, KY was the youngest of five children to Clarence and Nella Dishman. You would be hard-pressed to find a more sports-focused family than the Dishmans. Everyone played at least one sport and most excelled in their sports. Dishman always gives credit to his parents and siblings for making him the man he grew to become.
"There were lessons I learned and mistakes I avoided because of the love we had for each other"
Attending DeSales Catholic High School, Cris played Football, Basketball, and Track - making his mark with coaches even to this day. A teammate remarked, "Cris was one of those guys that just had it but never let his talent be bigger than the team". And with that Dishman broke records in track that were held for over 30 years.
Dishman, a dual sport athlete in football and track & field at Purdue University – always knew he wanted to play professional football. The irony of his original dream – he went to Purdue University as a Receiver on Offense, and was moved to Defense as a Defensive Back/Corner Back in the first team meeting. An idea that he was not initially crazy about – but trusted his coaches and took advantage of the opportunity given.
After receiving his BS in Criminal Justice, the Boilermaker entered into the NFL Draft. Drafted #125 by the Houston Oilers – the Kentucky native headed south to begin his career. Spending 8 years with the Houston Oilers; 2 years with the Washington Redskins; 2 years with the Kansas City Chiefs; and his 13th season with the Minnesota Vikings, all including 2 Pro Bowl Selections and a slew of other NFL accolades – Dishman playing as a Corner Back was destiny.
In 2005, Dishman pulled the trigger on his coaching career and crossed the pond over to Berlin, Germany to join the NFL Europe’s Berlin Thunder as the Defensive Backs Coach. Proving he’s an impact player now in the coaching realm – he developed and coached the defense to the #1 Passing Defense in the league – up 6 spots. After the season concluded, he immediately returned to the States to participate in the NFL’s Bill Walsh Coaching Diversity Program – a program designed to make an impact on diversity hires in Coordinator and Head Coaching positions. Dishman connected with powerhouse coaches and familiar faces – Norv Turner, Nick Saban, and Lane Kiffin. With a smile on his face, Dishman remarked, “this was a coaching experience equivalent to winning the development lotto.” The program not only developed NFL coaching experience it fostered strong relationships with some of the best coaching programs in the league – folks, Cris Dishman is in rare air.
Dishman went on to Menlo College in Atherton, CA working as a Defensive Backs Coach. The next year he was promoted to Defensive Coordinator for the program. Smaller programs mean smaller budgets for staff salaries – but Dishman saw the huge payoff of learning the college schemes and paying his dues. That’s part of Dishman’s “secret sauce” – he puts the work in – and his players do the same. At Menlo College, Dishman coached the team to one of their best records in the school’s history.
Taking his talents south, Dishman got the call to coach from the NFL’s San Diego Chargers to be the Assistant Defensive Back’s Coach. This was the opportunity Dishman had prepared for – and he didn’t waste it. In two years where Dishman demanded excellence on and off the field of his players, the team’s passing defense was resurrected from a paltry last place in the league to 1st. A humble Dishman reluctantly shared that stat because he’s not an accolades guy. Dishman expects to get results because he’s always going to put the work in – yes he’s a real person.
In 2013, after five seasons, the Chargers made a Head Coaching change that resulted in staff changes. Taking his time to find the right next move Dishman landed at Baylor University in 2015 to begin his next step in coaching at a Power 5 Program
After one full season with the Baylor Bears, the head coach and other staff were released and interim staffing changes were made. Dishman continued to coach the Safeties into his second season on staff all the way to the Cactus Bowl Championship win. The Baylor Football program hired a permanent head coach who brought in his own staff.
Answering the call once again in the pros, Dishman joined head coach Mike Sherman and the Montreal Alouettes staff in the Canadian Football League (CFL) as the Defensive Backs Coach. With a new set of rules, a wider field of play, Dishman brought his coaching formula for success. Marking notable improvement throughout the season in the secondary each game in the regular season, the Alouettes' secondary quickly became a defensive force.
“I’ve always loved to teach the game. I studied it so much while I was a player. I saw so many guys make avoidable mistakes. I wanted to help the next guy out so that they could make it even further in their career/life than me.”
Dishman’s philosophies are truly a formula of part labor of love, part mission work, part competitive and unselfish spirit – a rare bill of material. Dishman approached his football retired life much like he did when he was switched from Offense to Defense at Purdue – he adjusted and continues to thrive.
In 2019, Dishman joined the XFL New York Guardians as the Defensive Backs Coach. Reuniting with a coach from his Houston Oilers playing days, Kevin Gilbride, the team and league (full of coaching and player talent) was poised to make a huge re-entry into professional football. In March 2020, the league ceased operations citing safety and health concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.