The NFLPA Collegiate Bowl Presented by Winnol is going down on Saturday, January 19 at The Home Depot Center on the campus of California State University Dominguez Hills in Carson, California. In the days before and after the game, we’ll have continuing coverage—from player and coach interviews to videos, photos and highlights. For more on the game, follow @NFLPABowl on Twitter.
We had the chance to check out a couple of practices earlier this week and catch up with Edwards, who will be at the helm of the American team against Vermeil’s National side.
Edwards had plenty to say, as usual. Never met an interview he didn’t like, in fact.
Edwards was candid about many topics, including his involvement with the NFLPA, a nearly 10-year playing career, as well as an 18-plus year stint as an NFL scout, assistant and head coach.
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TDdaily: Talk about your involvement with this game—it appears to be a format where college athletes have one last, and perhaps final, opportunity to impress scouts from the NFL. When you were approached about the idea of helping players chase their dreams, was it a no-brainer decision?
Herm Edwards: You make a good point about opportunity, that’s what this is about. Most of these kids did not get a lot of exposure in college because of statistical information. I don’t believe in all that stuff. From what I’ve seen here out on the field, there are some professional football players in this group, I can tell you that right now. As a coach in this situation, you have to put the athletes in the best possible position to succeed. That’s why I’m here, to give back, in a sense.
TD: Given your resume, what’s the best advice for some of these prospects?
HE: I tell the guys, for those invited to camp and have a chance to play in the NFL, this is not a hobby. It’s a job, a full-time job. The only way you get a job is by beating somebody else out. Professional football players don’t graduate like college. That’s what you’re dealing with at the next level.
TD: Not everyone is cut out for the NFL. Getting paid to play is for the chosen few, right?
HE: Experience is a great teacher. Problem is, you have to get the lesson first and understand what’s being taught. It’s all part of living and taking advantage of the situation.
TD: What about strategy, would it be nice to get a victory against Coach Vermeil? Can’t imagine there is much trash-talking taking place, but is there any type of friendly rivalry between the two of you?
HE: I don’t know about a rivalry, it’s more of a respect thing. I love Coach Vermeil like a dad. I’ve known him since I was a teenager, 17 years old, when he recruited me in high school. A lot of my coaching philosophies come from Dick. We’ve talked about this NFLPA Collegiate Bowl Game. It will be fun, just to stand on the other sideline and coach against him.
TD: You know my next question: Do you play to win the game?
HE: I’m not going to live that down, am I? Yes, you could say that, as a coach, there is nothing wrong with winning.
TD: Let’s switch gears and talk about your journey. You were born on the East Coast. The next stop was high school in Northern California. College ball at Cal and San Diego State followed. Then it was onto the NFL, sound accurate?
HE: It’s been a crazy ride.
TD: You and Coach Vermeil have some history with the Eagles.
HE: Dick gave me an opportunity when no one else would. I was undrafted and a free agent. There were not many NFL coaches beating down my door.
TD: You never missed a game in nine years with the Birds, right?
HE: Never missed a practice either. I worked my way up and started in Philadelphia, that was special for me when you think about where it all began. It says something about me, my make-up, the people who guided me along the way. I played for the guys in the huddle, the guys on our sideline, the coaches, and for mentors like Dick Vermeil.
TD: Philadelphia can be a tough town. You spent a majority of your career there. What are your impressions of the City of Brotherly Love or would you rather forget that era?
HE: Philadelphia is my home away from home. Hey, those are great fans too. I get all of the booing, understand it. When they boo, it’s a badge of courage. They want you to play well because the fans care. It’s a tradition to be an Eagles fans, handed down from generation to generation. That city, Philadelphia, that’s Eagles country, you have to understand that when you go there to play.
TD: Everyone asks about Miracle at the Meadowlands, or as it’s called The Fumble, against the New York Giants in 1978. Was that the most memorable play for you or does another situation conjure up better emotions?
HE: I have lot of great memories, believe that. I get questions about the Giants all the time. Let’s forget about that play, for a minute. The game I’ll always remember was when we beat the Dallas Cowboys and advanced to the Super Bowl.
TD: You mean the 20-7 victory in the NFC Championship Game at Veterans Stadium back in 1981?
HE: The Vet was electric that day. You could feel the passion from our fans in the stands. It was like nothing I’d ever experienced before. I’ll never forget that. It was unbelievable. That memory sticks out the most for me. Philadelphia, the city and the Eagles, both were good to me over the years.
TD: With college coach from Oregon Chip Kelly recently taking over for the departed Andy Reid, any thoughts about the direction of the Eagles?
HE: I know Andy, on a personal level. He’s one of the best coaches the Eagles ever had. He had a great tenure. Coach Vermeil would agree. Andy will be fine. He’s in a good spot with Kansas City. Similar to Andy, Chip Kelly has an offensive mindset. That’s fine too. The people in Philadelphia, they want to see defense though. Chip has to get the problems solved on defense first. And he will, I think. He’s a smart man. After that, he can focus on the offense.
TD: Lastly—ever get the coaching itch, is a return to the NFL sidelines an option?
HE: No, no, no, I’m fine. I’ve got calls for jobs the last three years and I’ve said no thank you each time. I love my job now. It’s the best one in town.
Sean Ceglinsky is TDdaily contributor based in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter at @seanceglinsky.