How does Dré Bly get the attention of the young people he coaches? Simple. He talks about his resumé – three-time all-American, college hall of famer, Super Bowl champion, two-time Pro Bowler, one All-Pro selection — then offers this: Despite all his success, he could’ve done more.
“I left some things out there on the table,” Bly admits. “I was one of those guys that it came naturally for me. If I (had) a work ethic with my natural ability, I probably could’ve done more. Instead of making two Pro Bowls, make six Pro Bowls. Instead of being a college hall of famer, being possibly a first/second ballot pro hall of famer. I know that’s the highest of the high, but those were goals that were within reach for me.”
At 39, Bly isn’t bothered looking back. He has a great life-- a wife and five kids in Charlotte. But he doesn’t shy away from disappointment or failure when he talks to his players. Basically, if a guy like Bly thinks he could’ve worked harder or been more humble, what does that mean for them?
“Those are things I look back on when I try to help these kids today,” Bly says. “Just don’t take things for granted. Don’t just rely on your ability.”
Since retiring from the NFL in 2010, Bly has been involved with three youth programs: Carolina BlackSox baseball, Hammer Down Tar Heels football, and Myers Park High School football. He handles high-level operations for the BlackSox and Hammer Down – lots of scheduling and organizing – and is an assistant coach for a Myers Park team that finished 11-2 last season.
“I’m a coach. That’s what I realized,” Bly says. “I tried the broadcasting thing but what I love, what I’m passionate about, is giving back and helping and mentoring these kids.”
Both the BlackSox and Hammer Down are youth travel teams, essentially the summer basketball model but for baseball and football. Bly is proud that each organization provides professional-level instruction with former major leaguers Tony Womack and Devon Lowery coaching the BlackSox teams and Deems May, Muhsin Muhammad, Roger Purgason, Frank Garcia and others helping with Hammer Down. Bly helps out in practice for both.
“I think I have the personality (to coach),” Bly says. “I think people relate to me. You’ve got to be able to talk. But also, you’ve got to have passion for it, man, and I definitely have passion. I’ve always been a competitor.”
The next step for Bly is likely a move to college or possibly the pros. With his children getting older, he’s put out feelers but is still pondering his next move.
“I would love to have the opportunity to come back to my alma mater. Be involved with those guys, if the opportunity presents itself,” Bly says. “Just gotta see how it goes, man. Everybody’s window is different and timeline is different.”
Bly keeps in touch with the UNC staff, specifically Gunter Brewer and Larry Fedora, who he says reminds him of Mack Brown. He also met new defensive backs coach Terry Joseph recently.
Regardless of what happens, Bly isn’t measuring coaching success by accolades.
“I’m fulfilling my dream right now,” Bly says. “Relationships -- that’s everything and more to me.”
Bly still keeps in close touch with many of his former teammates. He has a running group chat with Tar Heel legends and they take trips together.
“Robert Williams, the best cover corner to ever play at Carolina. Brian Simmons, I talk to him. I talk to Greg Ellis. Octavus Barnes, Omar Brown, Alge Crumpler,” Bly lists. “The bond we formed while we were at Carolina, we still share. They’re my brothers man. They’re my best friends in this lifetime.”