San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Tomsula has a reputation as a hard-working, blue-collar type of guy. And that image is no fabrication.
In a profile on Tomsula published by ESPN, the coach admits that he spent part of his early coaching career living out of his car. That fact had already been circulated some in the media, but it's a little more gritty than that -- Tomsula also had a dog and a cat that lived with him in the car, which was a Cadillac.
At the time, Tomsula was an unpaid assistant working at Catawba College in North Carolina. His story has drawn humorous comparisons to Chris Farley's famous "Matt Foley" character, known for his motivational speeches built off the fact he was "living in a van, down by the river."
Tomsula's journey from those humble beginnings to head coach of the vaunted 49ers is pretty impressive, but when asked about his homeless stretch, he's mostly dismissive of it.
"It sounds like it was absolutely horrendous," Tomsula says. "It wasn’t. It really wasn’t. It wasn’t horrendous. I mean, there [are] people that have horrendous circumstances and I feel kind of bad, people making comparisons."
"I mean, I wasn’t living in my car in Maine in the winter. I was in North Carolina. … Listen, I’ve had an incredible life. I just have."
Spoken like a truly humble individual.
In fact, Tomsula resorted to a patchwork of odd jobs to try and make ends meet while waiting for his football career to take off. ESPN reports that he sold meat, cleaned floors and worked at a Piggly Wiggly supermarket chain.
Tomsula's blue-collar, somewhat unrefined nature has generated doubts about his readiness to serve as the 49ers' head coach, not to mention that his promotion from the defensive line was a huge jump in responsibility. He's also a stark contrast to the affluent, squeaky-clean profile of Jim Harbaugh, who he's replacing, so perhaps in that sense, Tomsula is exactly what the franchise was looking for.