Alumni Alley runs on Mondays throughout the offseason on PhiladelphiaEagles.com and features a former Eagle who writes about his time in Philadelphia and his perspective after his NFL career ended. This week: former wide receiver Greg Lewis, who played with the Eagles from 2003 to 2008 before playing two seasons in Minnesota. Lewis is now a wide receivers coach at the University of Pittsburgh. He talks about his transition from the playing field to the coaching world ...
I was always one of those players who saw himself as an extension of the coach when I was on the field. It was something I wanted to get into once my playing days were over. I enjoyed all of the interaction with my coaches in my career. I liked being in the film room learning ways to improve my game and give me some kind of advantage. I wasn’t the biggest or fastest guy, so to make it in the league I had to do everything right. I saw what a different it made with me.
It’s exciting to me to work with young players and see them improve so much. My goal is to help the players get the most out of their abilities. It was a blessing for me to learn from so many great coaches in my career, so to give back now is special to me. To be in this game, something I love, is very exciting.
Once my playing career ended with the Vikings, I took six months off and then started on the coaching path. I went to Temple University to work with then-head coach Steve Addazio and coach Kevin Rogers, who was a coach with the Vikings when I was there. They allowed me to sit in on meetings and learn the ins and outs of how it all works. Then Andy Reid allowed me to come to the Eagles in 2012 and participate in the minority coaching program that the NFL offers and my responsibilities grew. It was a great learning experience.
During that training camp, I was hired by the University of San Diego and so once my time with the Eagles ended I went right to San Diego to get into coaching. I left San Diego after three months when the coach there was hired by San Jose State and took a couple of us from the staff, and then I coached at San Jose for the 2013 season. In February, I was hired by Paul Chryst, the head coach at the University of Pittsburgh, and I’m excited to be here, in the Atlantic Coast Conference, working with some very good young talent.
I love the profession. At the college level, it involves a lot of recruiting and finding some young prospects, and once they come to Pittsburgh we work a lot on technique and the important things that they need to play well against a different level of competition. I had the Mountain West Freshman of the Year last year, Tyler Winston, who came along very well, and I have a great situation at Pitt working with Tyler Boyd, who was the ACC Freshman of the Year last season.
Coach Chryst is a passionate man who cares about the kids and their futures and who demands excellence on the field. Pittsburgh has a great football history and the city offers a lot. We have good facilities and we’re in a very competitive conference.
It’s a hard transition from player to coach. A lot of guys don’t have a sense of the coaching staff when they’re players. I always appreciated how much my coaches here – wide receivers coach David Culley and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and head coach Andy Reid – gave to me and helped me make it in the league for six seasons in Philadelphia. I feel truly blessed, I really do.
Coaching is my profession now. To be involved in the game I love is special. I’m going to give it everything I have and learn every day, just like I did when I played the game.