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Thursday, February 19, 2009

2009 NFL Combine - Day 2

I have been to Indianapolis and the RCA Dome attending the NFL Combine I believe for 19 years as a College Coach, an NFL Special Teams Coordinator and now as a Consultant.

Not too much has changed in the 19 years except now there is a brand new football stadium which is Lucas Oil Stadium. This will be my first visit inside the new facility. In the photo below it looks beautiful.

Thursday was a full day of networking with NFL GM's, Head Coaches, Directors of Personnel, Special Teams Coaches and Scouts.

During my 13 years in the NFL as a Special Teams Coach with the Vikings, Ravens and Cardinals I made a lot of friends and probably a few enemies. (I hope not a lot!)

My mission is to get as many teams to attend (my) Coach Zauner's Free Agent Specialists NFL Combine, April 6th in Scottsdale, Arizona.

The morning went unbelievable well with meeting Roger Goodell (NFL Commissioner), Ray Anderson (NFL Executive VP), Mike Pereira (NFL's Head of Officials), Bill Polian (Colts), Ozzie Newsome (Ravens), George Kokinis (GM Browns), and Jeff Ireland (GM Dolphins).

It was great seeing Ozzie Newsome. Ozzie and I played a few rounds of golf while I was the Special Teams Coach in Baltimore with the Ravens. Ozzie is a class act and one heck of a General Manager. with a high performance rating within the leagues NFL Draft or trades. As for his golf game, well that's another matter. We had some great times together on and off the field.

Later in the day my old friend and the new General Manager of the Cleveland Browns, George Kokinis tapped me on the shoulder and said "hi". George was brought through the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens system under Ozzier Newsome.

George and I had some great conversations about special teams players and kicking specialists. George is a task master when it comes to personnel and will do a heck of a job for the Browns.

Then there's Jeff Ireland, General Manager for the Miami Dolphins. Back in 1992 when I was a kicking consultant for the Chicago Bears under Head Coach Mike Ditka, Jeff was a free agent placekicker from Baylor. Boy has he come a long way and fast!

My networking continued at the Westin Hotel. I had a chance to talk to Jack Del Rio, Jacksonville Jaguars Head Coach and one of my former players at the Minnesota Vikings. Next I talked to Cincinnati Head Coach Marvin Lewis. Marvin and I coached together back in the mid 80's at the University of New Mexico.

I moved down the hallway to spend time talking to Carolina Head Coach John Fox and Tennessee Titans Head Coach Jeff Fisher. I've known John for a long time since our days when we were both coaches back in San Diego at different schools.

My mission went on. During the course of the afternoon and evening I got a chance to meet up and talk to a large part of the NFL Special Teams Coaches. I believe they liked my Free Agent Specialists NFL Combine idea and most were impressed with the list of players I had coming.

The List of NFL Special Teams Coaches I talked to so far:

Mike Westhoff - New York Jets
Bruce DeHaven - Seattle Seahawks
Al Everest - S.F. 49ers
Scottie O'Brien - former Broncos and current Patriots
Brad Seely - former New England Patriots and current Browns
Joe DeCamillis - former Jaguars and current Cowboys
Greg McMahon - New Orleans Saints
Darrin Simmons - Cincinnati Bengals
Steve Crosby - San Diego Chargers
Stan Kwan - Detroit Lions
Keith Armstrong - Atlanta Falcons
Kevin O'Day - New York Jets S.T. Assistant
Kevin Spencer - Arizona Cardinals
John Fassel - Oakland Raiders
Russ Purnell - former Colts and current Jaguars
Shawn Slocum - Green Bay Packers
Bob Ligashesky - Super Bowl Champs Pittsburgh Steelers

It is Friday morning as I write this blog and I have talked to half of the Special Teams Coaches. Today is a big day because at 1:00 PM the Kicking Specialist start the combine with their workouts and right after most of the Special Teams Coaches are sprinting to the airport to catch flights.

I look forward to the kicking specialists workout this afternoon. I love to evaluate talent. I and all the Special Teams Coaches will see how good this group is compared to previous years. On paper this group looks pretty good.

Stay Tuned for More of Coach Zauner's Blog from the NFL Combine.