For Redskins' Archuleta, An Imposing Body of Work
Sunday, June 18, 2006
The truck rolled down a quiet residential street, while Adam Archuleta clung to a jury-rigged handle affixed to its rear, running for dear life to keep up. Of all the crazy things Archuleta's trainer, Jay Schroeder, had concocted in the name of improving his fitness, this was surely the most bizarre. But Archuleta, then a wide-eyed teenager, went along willingly.
These were the early days of the Archuleta-Schroeder relationship. Archuleta was a junior at Chandler High School in Arizona. That he would soon dominate the Pacific-10 as a linebacker at Arizona State, then get drafted 20th overall by the St. Louis Rams, convert to a defensive back and become the highest-paid safety in NFL history when the Washington Redskins signed him in March was unimaginable at the time.
To Archuleta, Schroeder and his unconventional tactics provided his best -- if not only -- chance of playing pro football, so he turned over his mind, body and soul to the trainer. No task was refused, no command ignored, even when it came to running 100-yard bursts while clenching a moving automobile for up to a half-mile at a time.
"From Day One, Jay has had me do some wild stuff," said Archuleta, who signed a six-year, $30 million contract with Washington. "And from Day One, for whatever reason, I did everything he told me to, when he told me to do it, in the way he told me to do it. There was complete faith and trust in what he was saying, and I don't think there was ever a point where I doubted anything. It was always, 'Okay, cool, whatever I have to do. Sometimes it kind of looks crazy, but let's do it.' "
Twelve years after his relationship with Schroeder began, Archuleta, 28, is the newest cog in Redskins assistant head coach Gregg Williams's defense. He is tough, yet unassuming off the field. He has the skills to attack the football, and with the study habits and smarts to master Williams's playbook.
One of Williams's sons is a devotee of Archuleta's workout video, "Freak of Training," and spoke about the safety's prowess to his father for years. Archuleta, meantime, was tired of playing for St. Louis, a finesse, offense-oriented franchise, a close friend said. He wanted a new team that stressed defense.
"He kind of has a chip on his shoulder coming in here," Williams said. "I love those guys. Those are the kinds of guys that are easy to coach because there's an automatic match for a blend. The mentality that he's been raised on in his offseason program, the toughness of his trainer, and the toughness of paying the price in peace so you don't bleed as much in war, he sees that's already a unified part of our defense, so it was really a quick sell."
Finding common ground with Schroeder was more challenging for Archuleta.
Archuleta initially approached him at a gym near his home after reading an article about his training techniques. Schroeder, 50, found the 175-pound high school junior cocky -- and made it clear that he was not to set foot in the gym again.
He wrote up a workout routine for Archuleta to follow anyway.
"From the day I met him he basically tore me up for a couple of hours verbally," Archuleta said. "I got home and my mother said, 'How did it go?' And I said, 'He pretty much cussed me out the whole time.' "
Archuleta was told to keep a detailed journal, tracking the technique he used for each weight lifting exercise, how much time it took to complete the drill, how his muscles felt after a workout, what he ate, how long he slept. Finally, when there could be no denying his dedication, he was allowed to work out with Schroeder in Mesa, Ariz. Archuleta began training with Schroeder daily.