Alumni Alley runs each Monday 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 center David Alexander, who played with the Eagles from 1987-94 and who has made the transition from NFL player to high school head coach in Oklahoma. Follow David today on Twitter @Daalex72*
Hello, Eagles Fans! I want to begin by saying that I loved playing for the Eagles at old Veterans Stadium and the fans were great and I cherished every bit of my time in the NFL. When I think of playing in the NFL, I think of the camaraderie of being part of the team, the great times I had and the great people I met. There is the disappointment that I feel along with that, because I felt our Eagles teams ultimately underachieved. I felt we had a better team than the results we had, but I can't change that now.
I played for the Eagles for a long time and then finished up with the Jets for a couple of seasons. I follow the Eagles to this day and think that head coach Chip Kelly (more on him later) is doing a great job building the team the right way.
For me, the road to becoming a high school head coach has been a long one. I didn't think about being a football coach when I was playing In the NFL. We moved back to Oklahoma when injuries were mounting up late in my career, so we bought a house and the kids were growing up and I ended football and got a job in what we call "the real world." When my oldest son reached sixth or seventh grade, the high school coach in that district kept calling me and inviting me to coach and I repeatedly turned him down. Finally, when my son was a freshman in high school, I agreed to become a coach.
I coached for those four years from 2005-08 as a weight coach while still working in private industry, and I really enjoyed it. The program won a couple of state championships and it was just a great experience. Finally, I said, "This is what I'm good at. I'm good at football."
The folks at the Jenks School District in Oklahoma were great to me. I wanted to become a teacher and they told me to get a math certificate. I'm pretty good at math and became certified – it took about nine months – and went to work as a teacher and a coach five years ago. I taught algebra and coached.
My second son then went through high school and graduated. I got the itch to become a head coach and I moved to my alma mater, Broken Arrow High School, to join that coaching staff. Midway through last year, we had the feeling that there would be a head coaching change, so I put together my presentation to interview for the job at the biggest high school in the state. The people here want to compete with schools like Jenks (which is about 60 percent of the size of Broken Arrow) and Union High School.
I started interviewing in December and just now have received approval from the school board. Now I'm a head coach! It's been a fun ride and a long way to reach this point.
A lot of guys who play in the NFL don't know what they want to do after their playing days are over. I was that way. I was lucky that when I returned home, after about six months, my neighbor walked across the street as I was mowing my lawn and asked me if I wanted to build some houses. I thought I would get robbed blind. But my neighbor got me In the door as a partner, introduced me to the business and it went very well until the coaching bug and teaching itch got to me.
I'm one of the fortunate ones. I was mentally ready to leave the game, which I loved so much. Physically, I just couldn't hold up any longer. My knees were done and I had a shoulder that was banged up, so I was ready to walk away. Being back in the game is so wonderful, and working with these young guys is very gratifying.
I had the good fortune of playing for great coaches in my career, and I borrow from all of them. Buddy Ryan, for example, had a great rapport with his players. He could be rough on some guys, but he never cursed and he never made it personal. We had success with Buddy and then with Richie Kotite and we made the playoffs and I absorbed a lot of what those coaches taught me.
In my time as a coach in the high school ranks, I've seen how the game has changed. I've seen how a coach like Chip Kelly has impacted every level of the game. He has always been so far ahead of what other coaches are thinking. There are so many coaches who want to be the next Chip Kelly. They want to learn what he has to say. He isn't doing anything X's and O's-wise that hasn't been done for years. He's just putting his own spin on things and it works at every level.
Chip isn't scared to try new things and that's something we all want to have in ourselves. We want to try it and have our players buy in to what we're doing. That's the key to success: Come up with a plan that you believe in, implement it and get the players to buy in. If you do that, you're going to win at any level. That's what Chip has done. That's why he is so successful and why he inspires so many coaches in the game of football.