First Person Singular: Redskins' Chris Samuels
I always knew I wanted to coach. My next-oldest brother coached a little Pop Warner team when I was in high school. I used to go help out, and I really enjoyed it. Right then and there, I knew this was my next move. The injury just speeded up the process. I got hit [playing] down in Carolina. It was a neck injury; it was pretty bad, and I was really upset and nervous. I was born with a condition called [spinal] stenosis -- disks really tight around my nerve core -- so every time I would get hit a certain way, I would be temporarily paralyzed. It happened five or six times total in my career, but I kept playing, and I would just pray about it. This time, the doctor was like, "You know, I advise you to quit." I didn't second-guess it one bit. I had a great career overall, 10 years of playing pro football, and I just knew it was time.
So, the same way I worked my whole life to become an NFL football player, I'm taking the same approach to coaching now: coming every day with the hungry attitude to learn as much as possible during this internship. As a player, you try to master your position so that you can be the best, but now I'm looking at the big picture instead of just left tackle. I mean, it's just like anything: If you want to be good, you've got to put in the hard labor to master your craft. A lot of it is work ethic. I've seen guys much more talented than I was just mess their life up with drugs, or just not being dedicated, or flunking out of school, or something of that nature. When I first got to [the University of] Alabama, I wasn't really strong enough mentally. They pretty much broke me: We had to do a lot of hard workouts, 6 a.m. mat drills. I'm throwing up. They'd yell at you, fuss at you, but they taught me how to keep going when I think that I can't go anymore.
If somebody gave me a coaching job right now, I don't think I would be the best at it, because I haven't really been trained, haven't been taught the proper way to coach. I feel like I have to pay my dues, you know? So, at this point, I'm just excited about soaking up the knowledge and getting the proper training, because I know in the long run, I'll wind up being a good coach. You know, my career got cut short, but at the end of the day, I'm not through with this game; I've still got a lot to offer.
-- Interview by KK Ottesen