Coach Carter

It was truly an honor to not only golf with a legend, but to pick his brain.

It was hot in Phoenix! It was 90+ and only 8:30 am. I ventured out into the area where the golf carts were stationed. The cart said that my partner was going to be none other than Rubin Carter. No, not the "Hurricane" of the famous Bob Dylan protest song. Another "Hurricane." A Miami Hurricane.


Now, it didn't matter if it was hot or not. I could care less if my swing looked more like a lumberjack chopping wood than a golf swing. I was going to spend time with a man who revolutionized the nose guard position in the NFL.


Rubin came lumbering up to me and stuck out one of the largest hands I have ever shook. He is a mountain of a person yet his intellect and affable attitude shines through. I could also see how a head slap from that hand made him one of the most fearsome men to ever have to block in the NFL. He told me tales of the old NFL. 12 full seasons with the Denver Broncos had definitely left some scars.


What blew me away is that he only had one knee surgery. He never wore a knee brace. He said, "I just taped my fingers and ankles". He played in the days that the tight end could crack back. He played in the days that allowed just about any cut block, wham block or double team. You could block with one guy high and bring another in low while engaged. To thrive and survive that kind of brutal play probably says as much about Rubin as anything.


Two Super Bowl appearances, Three AFC Championships, Pro Bowls and adulation as a Denver Bronco all time great, why he is not part of the Denver Broncos "Ring of Fame" is beyond me and something that should happen sooner than later.


To borrow a phrase from the famous pitch… But WAIT! There's MORE!"


Rubin had a lot to say about life. His faith is not worn on his sleeve but practiced in the way he interacts with people and how humble and genuine he is. He was high fiving greens keepers. He was warning them to "watch out" when he teed up on a par 3. You see, while Rubin was a great football player, it is obvious that he is just learning the game of golf. He accepted some pointers from the "A" player in our group and a few suggestions from me. One thing he did well was putt. He picked up the team with some good rolls. After a couple of made putts it was obvious his nickname for the rest of the trip. "Birdie" Carter sounded good to me! 


As we talked and played, he gave me the vision of how the Lobos will play on the D-line in the 4-3 alignment that Coach Carter knows like the back of his hand. He talked about the D-ends as his "jet fighters" and his tackles as the "control guys" who are run stoppers and pocket busters.


He said that UNM will be very good on the D-line and it is because of the depth that is coming up and fast. Peter Gardner, Ugo Uzodinma, and the rest of the line are working hard. Of course I had to ask about the prize of the class of 2010, Calvin Smith. Rubin said that he believes that Calvin will play as a true freshman. He also told me that Jaymar Latchinson and Johnathan Rainey are going to give O-lines on the schedule all they can handle.


As another "one-under" putt rolled home, "Birdie" just smiled and thanked us for believing in him. His goal this summer? Some golf lessons and another shot at teaching new techniques to his troops. For Coach Rubin Carter the journey to greatness is something that transcends sports and is part and parcel of what makes him. The best thing he ever did? That is easy, raising his son Andre to be great too. As a current member of the Washington Redskins, entering his 10th year. Rubin says that Andre is taking the lessons taught and applying them just like Rubin wanted.  Rubin says that this is how he treats all his players, just like he treated Andre. Now, who would not love to play for a man like Rubin Carter?  I know that I would!  Heat. What heat?

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