MT. LAUREL, N.J. — Adam Archuleta’s left elbow leaned against the desk, his posture relaxed, his remarks sharp, his hair perfectly flipped to the right and his pinstripe suit neatly pressed.
The former safety appeared confident and comfortable Tuesday on the set of a mock football television show at the Broadcast Boot Camp, a week of training for current and former NFL players hosted by the league at NFL Films.
Archuleta’s football career — which included a short, unsuccessful stint with the Redskins that he calls the “relative worst year of my life” — ended four years ago after he failed to earn a spot with the Oakland Raiders. If he’s going to succeed as a broadcaster, he said he wants do it the right way — not simply as a former player who landed on television.
Archuleta, 34, had his first taste of broadcasting at the 2010 boot camp, an experience he said was difficult because he was still raw. He was invited back this year as part of the advanced track, working as a studio analyst and broadcaster for the new Pac-12 Network.
After his first camp, Archuleta worked extensively for six months with renowned voice coach Arthur Joseph. Those sessions taught Archuleta, a self-described introvert, how to communicate not just on television, but in everyday life.
“With athletes, they’re often muscular and quite big that you want them to sound like they look,” Joseph said. “With Adam being young and handsome, you want him to sound more masculine and authoritative. Not get higher or faster.”
Tuesday’s mock studio show was filmed on the set of Showtime’s “Inside the NFL” and was moderated by the show’s regular host, James Brown. The producer, Pete Radovich, sat in the control booth and offered critiques between segments. Archuleta, along with former players John Fina and Michael Young, offered their opinions on various football topics.
Radovich told the players that even though they were on set, they needed to be themselves. They either had it or they didn’t, he said.
“If you’re going to go down in flames, go down being yourself,” Radovich said. “Don’t go down trying to be a broadcaster.”
They later learned to dissect game footage with Ron Jaworski and Greg Cosell.
Jaworski told the three former players that he prepared for 96 hours a week while he was broadcasting “Monday Night Football.” It’s not a job where you can just show up and expect to perform, he said.
After his playing career ended, Archuleta struggled to find himself. Like other players, he saw his “worth to the world” determined by being a football player. His NFL career offered him great opportunities, but he said he would only let it define a decade of his life.
“There was a time when that’s all I was,” Archuleta said. “And ultimately I don’t think that’s a very satisfying place to be. It wasn’t for me, anyway.”
Archuleta signed a six-year, $30 million contract with the Redskins in 2006, a deal so large it made him the highest-paid safety in league history. Regarded as a fierce defender during his five seasons with St. Louis, Archuleta never panned out in Washington. He played just one season of his contract and was relegated to special teams by the season’s midway point.
He said he felt embarrassed as he failed to contribute. He asserted most of the blame on himself and his failure to block out outside influences that had little to do with football. But it was “a two-way street,” he said, adding that some of the responsibility fell on the team’s coaching staff.
Archuleta believed he could play his best when he played close to the line and used as a fourth linebacker, but the Redskins preferred to use him off the ball as more of a traditional safety.
“If you try to change who I am as a player and what got me there, you’re not going to get a good return,” Archuleta said.
A bigger market, an unfamiliar defensive scheme and the pressures of his contract weighed on Archuleta. He said he became a “miserable dredge of a person,” someone who took the game too seriously. He was short with his family, he said, and even shorter with the media.
“It was like life or death, and when things weren’t going well, I took it like I was dying,” Archuleta said. “I fought so hard and was so depressed and messed up that it changed me as a person. It took me a few years to realize that there is more to life.”
He was granted a trade to Chicago following the team’s dismal 5-11 season, but started just 10 games and was released in the offseason.
Archuleta believes his decline in performance may be correlated with a pair of concussions suffered during his last season in St. Louis. It’s a subject he said he doesn't like to talk about. He believes concussions are a part of the game, a risk he knew when he first began playing.
“I don’t want that to be my identity,” Archuleta said. “I never want to have a victim mentality. Now, whether or not I was affected by those is a different story. But, I don’t really believe in talking about things that could be wrong or could go wrong. Not that I want to sweep things under the rug, but I have things I want to accomplish.”