Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Webster Slaughter remembers Steve Wilson. They often clashed when Slaughter played for the old Cleveland Browns and Wilson was a defensive back for the Denver Broncos.
"He was a pretty good player," Slaughter said. "He probably was one of the toughest guys I faced."
Wilson and Slaughter have been hooking up again recently -- only this time as a coach and player, respectively, at the Baltimore Ravens' training camp.
Wilson, now Howard University's head football coach, has been working with the Ravens' wide receivers and defensive backs under an NFL internship program for college coaches. Wilson joined the Ravens when camp opened at Western Maryland College on July 28 and left after today's workout to concentrate on the upcoming opening of Howard's camp.
Wilson didn't ask for this position solely to get a look at life in the NFL; he played in the league for 10 years, beginning with the Dallas Cowboys. And he didn't need it to learn how to become a successful college coach; this will be Wilson's 11th year as coach at his alma mater, where he has compiled a 68-44 record and won two black college national championships.
Most important for Howard, Wilson also said that even though he has been working with the Ravens, he has no interest in moving into NFL coaching. He said he just wanted an opportunity to work with some solid coaches who can help him learn.
"You've got one of the best, if not the best, offensive minds in football here in [Ravens head coach] Brian Billick," Wilson said after today's practice. "I wanted to come and see the intricacies of his offense. I went to the Jets for the same reason [six years ago]."
Wilson said that since Howard and the Ravens have nearly identical offenses, he can learn plenty to help the Bison, who in recent years have had one of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference's best offensive teams.
"It's mostly the West Coast offense that [the Ravens] run, and that's what we do," Wilson said. "This is great, no doubt about it. This is like Christmas come early."
Wilson clearly enjoyed himself here. Hat pulled down low over his forehead, sunglasses on and constantly pacing back and forth on the sidelines, Wilson appeared relaxed. Constantly instructing players and interacting with other coaches, he looked much as he does on the Howard sideline.
The only difference -- he wore Ravens gear.
"I've known Steve for a number of years," Billick said. "It's a great opportunity for Steve to interact with [players] and take things back to Howard University and his program there."
Cornerback Duane Starks said Ravens players -- even those younger than Slaughter -- knew Wilson played in the NFL, and that made them respect his words that much more. Starks, the team's first-round draft pick in 1998, said Wilson has helped him and the Ravens' other defensive backs.
"He's really done a good job here," Starks said. "[We know] that anyone who's been in the game has something to teach."
Particularly someone who played in four conference championship games -- two against Slaughter and the Browns -- and two Super Bowls.
"He helps us out tremendously," Slaughter said. "He gives his wisdom on how defensive backs cover wide receivers. He brings some wisdom to us, no doubt about it."