NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The New York Jets have their new head coach.

The team hired former San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, who makes history as the NFL’s first Muslim head coach.

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Saleh, 41, is of Lebanese descent.

He was a hot commodity during the offseason because of the success he had in San Francisco. Six of the seven teams looking for a new head coach interviewed Saleh, CBS2’s Steve Overmyer reported.

It was reported Saleh was not a favorite to land the Jets job when the process started. But that changed after the impression Saleh made in his first virtual interview.

The team flew Saleh in for a second round of in-person interviews, where he continued to impress and agreed to a 5-year deal to coach the Jets.

“Staff diversity goes beyond the color of our skin,” Saleh said at an NFL coaching summit in 2020.

“Yes, you want different race. You want different personalities. You need different values, but together. When you put together your staff, understand that you’re bringing people who do things that you can’t,” he continued.

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Saleh was inspired to leave his job in banking and got into coaching when his brother narrowly escaped the World Trade Center on 9/11.

From a coffee-running intern in Houston to coaching linebackers in Jacksonville, Saleh was known for his connection with the players and his fire at every stop along the way.

New York is a melting pot of different races, different religions, different backgrounds. I love that Christopher Johnson and Joe Douglas have taken that into account, put the players first and just made the right decision,” said Jets Late Night analyst Erik Coleman.

The Jets are coming off a 2-14 season, one of the worst in franchise history, which cost Adam Gase his job.

Saleh is now tasked with turning around a franchise that is looking for a new identity.

“It doesn’t matter what race you are, what background you are. Can you get the job done for this team? And can you put us in the best position to win,” said Coleman.

Did the Jets finally get it right after 10 years of missing the playoffs? Only time will tell, but Saleh’s passion and pedigree could be the answer.

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Steve Overmyer