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Where Are They Now? S Rashard Cook

Rashard Cook
Rashard Cook

The Chicago Bears chose two defensive backs in the 1999 NFL Draft and wanted to keep them both. And to do that, they hoped to sneak Rashard Cook, who was a sixth-round pick from USC, through waivers and re-sign him.

"Yeah, that was the plan," Cook laughed. "They definitely wanted to get younger and draft some good players from college that they thought could stay in the organization for a long time. So, the whole plan was for me to lay low for a couple days and then they were going to put me on the practice squad, and sign me to the active roster in the upcoming weeks."

That didn't work out for the Bears after a few teams put in claims for Cook, and he was awarded to the Eagles. Joining the team just days before the season-opener and Andy Reid's debut as a head coach, the rookie was in a whirlwind. New city. New coaches. New teammates. New playbook. New life.

"It was different for me because I didn't really get a chance to see how (Defensive Coordinator) Jim Johnson was making the changes, so I just kind of got there not knowing what to expect," Cook said. "I didn't play that first week. I was on a sideline and the team was playing pretty good, so you could see it was going to be different from the previous year (when the Eagles went 3-13).

"I remember we lost that game (against Arizona, 25-24), but it was competitive. I knew that I was going to have to come there and kind of make my mark on special teams. So my goal, honestly, was week-to-week to make the team."

Playing mostly as special teams in 13 games that first season, Cook did collect his first interception in the season finale against the then-St. Louis Rams off of Joe Germaine. The Eagles won the game, 38-31, to finish 5-11.

That was followed by back-to-back 11-5 seasons and Philadelphia's first playoff berth since the 1995 campaign.

Cook made team history during the 2001 Divisional Round playoff game in Chicago when he became the first defensive back to record a sack – Jim Miller for a 7-yard loss on the Bears' second offensive play – and an interception – off of Shane Matthews in the fourth quarter, which he returned 15 yards – in the same game.

"The sack was one of the things that set the tempo of that game defensively," Cook said. "We knew Jim wanted to bring a lot of pressure. The quarterbacks were not as mobile. They had some good receivers, good running backs, but we really wanted to dictate the flow of the game. Jim said that he's going to be aggressive, and I think that kind of set the tone early in the game of coming after the quarterback and getting some hits on him.

"And to be able to seal the deal somewhere where I was previously, Donovan McNabb is from Chicago, I got drafted there, there were some guys that had a little history, so it was a pretty good moment."

Just two years after going 5-11, beating the Bears led the Eagles to the first of four consecutive NFC Championship Games, culminating by playing in Super Bowl XXXIX against New England.

The key to the turnaround?

"I think they drafted well and re-signed key guys early in their careers, as well. Sometimes teams are very young and they're very talented, and they don't have the leadership. And sometimes teams are older, more established, and they just don't have some of the younger guys making plays," Cook said.

"And if you look, Donovan McNabb, he sat behind Doug Pederson for a full year to learn the game. (Reid) didn't just throw him into the fire. He kind of always had someone who can lead the guy. And I love how they did that. I think it's a great way to do it because you're always young enough, but you always have enough veterans to get it done."

Playing four seasons for Philadelphia, Cook's now a licensed real estate broker with Metro Realty Advisors in San Diego, CA. He got into the field after buying his first house and wanting to understand more about the process.

"I enjoyed going to houses, seeing them, and I know there's the other side, the contracts, but that's where it kind of led me into it," Cook said. "And then I got into that and financial services. So that's what I'm doing now, financial services and real estate. Metro is basically the real estate arm of what I'm doing on my own. But then also I'm working with Lucia Capital Group as a wealth manager.

"I like the face-to-face interactions and dealing with clients. Being a problem solver. I think you can go back to your playing days at safety. You're the last line of defense, the quarterback on the defense. I think there's a lot of similarities with what I'm doing now. They're looking to me for guidance. They're looking for me to protect them. They're looking for me to save them from certain situations. My job is to come up with solutions."

Cook will also have to come up with game plans after being named in January as the new Head Coach at Mater Dei Catholic High School in the San Diego suburb of Chula Vista. After training others and coaching youth football, he's been at Mater Dei since 2018 as the DB coach for four years and defensive coordinator last season.

"As (my kids) got into football, I kind of got into coaching. I just wanted to be a dad first. Watch them play. But it's one of those things where if you have the knowledge of something, I think it's a great opportunity to share that knowledge with other people. So I got into coaching high school," said Cook, who with his wife, Joy, have five children: Elijah, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Noah, and Amiyah.

"I've been super fortunate looking back at the people I've been around as far as being coached by, going all the way back to high school. John Shacklett, he retired as one of the winningest coaches in San Diego. And then going to USC, I had John Robinson, who's one of the greatest coaches in college history.

"Then getting to the NFL and having Andy Reid as your head coach, Jim Johnson as the coordinator, and all those (assistant coaches) that are still in the NFL and having a lot of success: Steve Spagnuolo, Leslie Frazier, Sean McDermott, Ron Rivera. I feel like I have a pretty good grasp of what it takes to lead a team.

"And what I love about all those guys, all those guys were teachers. That's what I remember the most about my coaches, the best coaches were the best teachers. I think that is the most important thing to me. I'm going to try to educate the kids every step of the way."

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