Q&A: With Former NFL Head Coach and ESPN Analyst Herm Edwards

CARSON, CALIF.,– Simply put, there are few figures in the sport of football who elicit more “I LOVE that guy” response from fans than Herm Edwards. I mean honestly, if you don’t like Herm Edwards, you’re basically admitting that you also don’t like puppies, apple pie and Les Mile press conferences. It’s essentially impossible.

Anyway, the former Chiefs and Jets head coach and current ESPN analyst is currently in Carson, Calif., as the head coach of the American Team at this weekend’s NFLPA Collegiate Bowl and on Friday took just a few minutes to talk to Crystal Ball Run… and do it in the tone and dialect that only he can.

Coach Edwards discussed the difference between high school and college football players, as well as what this year’s NFL draft prospects can expect when they get to the next level.

Coach, in previous years you’ve coached in the Under Armour (High School All-American) Game as well as in this NFLPA Game for graduating seniors. What is the difference in the mind-set between an 18-year-old and their big-picture understanding of football and in life, and in the players that you’re working with this week?

To me, it’s the same. They’re all there to learn.

If a high school kid is getting ready to go to college, he walks into the locker room and there’s a senior looking right at him. In pro football… you come out of college, there’s a 30-year-old man standing there saying, ‘You’re trying to take my job.’

But when you’re at the Under Armour Game, you’ve got the best of the best anywhere…

Yes, they’re the best of the best. But they’re going to go to college and the first thing they’re going to do is (walk in the locker room) and say, ‘I thought I was the only 6’3 guy. I’m not.’

When you get drafted- there are only 250 players getting drafted- it doesn’t matter if you’re a first rounder or third rounder, you’ve got to go in there and take a guy’s job.

To me, it’s the same process. I’ve been on both levels of it. You have no experience, you have a lot talent and now you have to earn your spot. In high school, you feel like you’re entitled, then you get to college and all of a sudden- uh, oh, uh oh- and that’s a part of it.

And that’s where the mental toughness (comes in), the ability to be coached, the ability to deal with inconvenience (and) failure. Understand a lot of kids have never failed. They don’t understand what failure is. Well failure is a process of growing. How they handle that will determine the future.

The only other question I have is that you yourself were an undrafted free agent and understand that everything has a shelf-life on this. How important do you think it is for the guys here this week (at the NFLPA Bowl) to get the off-the-field training about financials and things like that.

It’s about sacrifice. What are you willing to give up to do that job? And I was willing to give up everything I have.

You know, everybody says they’re willing to do it, to make that sacrifice. Do you think guys really truly understand what that means?

It’s hard to do man. It’s going to hit them in the face. Dick (Vermeil, the other head coach in the NFLPA Game) gave me the greatest compliment anyone could ever give me, ‘I was the hardest working defensive back he’s ever had.’ That’s the greatest compliment I could ever have.

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About Aaron Torres

Aaron Torres works for Fox Sports, and was previously a best-selling author of the book 'The Unlikeliest Champion.' He currently uses Aaron Torres Sports to occasionally weigh-in on the biggest stories from around sports. He has previously done work for such outlets as Sports Illustrated, SB Nation and Slam Magazine.