New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles players talk about how they were shaped and impacted by youth coaches in their communities.
Bill Belichick is one of the highest-paid and most-decorated coaches in any sport. Making $7.5 million a year and leading the New England Patriots to five Super Bowl titles — and possibly a sixth by late Sunday night — Belichick’s influence is undeniable.
But it is also undeniable that players on the Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles were shaped and impacted by youth coaches in their communities throughout the United States.
Here are some examples:
“I started playing sports at about 7 years old, and my Pop Warner (coach) was very inspirational and very encouraging. I appreciated that. His son was the quarterback and we got along very well. I still keep in contact with him to this day."
Adam Butler, Patriots defensive lineman
“Every coach I had growing up since I was 8 years old. I was lucky. But my high school coach, Guy Gardner at Palos Verdes High School (in California) gave me confidence. He told me how good I could be.”
Joe Walker, Patriots linebacker
“Steve Turner was my high school coach (at Mountain View High School in Oregon). I learned a lot from him. He had so much heart.”
Jacob Hollister, Patriots tight end
“It was my basketball coach. He was honestly the first person who really, really pushed me and showed me my potential.”
Darrell Greene, Eagles guard
“I had a coach who used to give me rides to practice and sometimes buy me McDonald’s!”
Harold Jones-Quartey, Eagles safety
“My high school coach, Kevin Kelley at Pulaski Academy (in Arkansas). He just always looked out for me. He helped me realize I was serious about football, and I wanted to focus on it. I played other sports, which he loved. But he helped me stay focused, and he kept the gym open for me, after basketball practice. I still am close to him. We talk quite a bit. He still plays a huge part in my life.”
Jason King, Patriots offensive lineman
“I'd have to say, growing up … it was my coach for the Boyertown Optimist Football Club. He and I still talk, he texts me before every game. We stay in touch pretty well. He's a great man."
James Develin, Patriots fullback
“My dad. When I played Little League baseball, he was throwing me the ball in the yard and stuff. Teaching me how to hit and stuff.”
Damarius Travis, Patriots defensive back
“This might sound a little cheesy, but it was my dad. He coached me when I played quarterback. He coached me in middle school and Little League, and I had two good receivers and he said just go out there and have fun.”
Najee Goode, Eagles linebacker
“Probably Mike Davis, because he took me out of violence that I was around. I was kind of leaning towards that way, and he showed me a way I could make it without leaning that way.”
Rasul Douglas, Eagles cornerback
“Bill McGregor, he was my high school football coach (at DeMatha High School in Maryland). He always demanded a lot out of us. No matter who you were, he didn't show favoritism to anyone. You've gotta appreciate and respect that as a player, a guy who demands and can get a lot out of his players and expects a lot. He knows how to fire guys up at the end of the day, a couple of times he made me cry 'cause I got so mad, but it wasn't bad. He pushed us hard, and it's just the way of life there.”
Rodney McLeod, Eagles safety
“Coach Raul Lara (from Long Beach Poly High School). The reason why is because he kicked me off the team once for being a knucklehead in high school. At the end of the day, he taught me a life lesson, and when that happened it changed me as a football player and a person. He put me back on the team and helped the team win, I feel like that helped me, later on, to really perfect my craft and be better at what I do.”
Randall Goforth, Eagles cornerback
“My first kicking coach when I was 15. I really didn't know anything about kicking a football at that time. I was always a soccer player, always thought I'd play soccer. He really taught me everything I knew about kicking and also why it is an important position."
Caleb Sturgis, Eagles kicker
SportsEngine's Brianna Lewerke contributed to this article.