Sydney Speaks! Family time for assistants

Packers assistant coaches are currently in the midst of a month-long vacation away from their job. Harry Sydney, a former Packers running backs coach, describes what the time away from Lambeau Field is like for a coach.

This is that time of year when the unsung heroes get a chance to do something else and think about other things rather than winning or losing football games. No, I'm not talking about the general manager Ted Thompson, or head coach Mike McCarthy, because everyone cares about what they are going to do. I'm talking about the guys that no one talks about, unless one of their players mess up and that's the assistant coaches.

This is their time to take a moment, take a breath and remembers what it's like to be husband, father, gardener, chauffer, trash man and everything else his kids or wife wants them to be. Also, if they are very lucky they might remember a hobby of theirs - they might pick up a golf club or fishing pole. But the greatest thing about it is that this is their time to totally get away. A month of "NO FOOTBALL" or at least it's supposed to be. Let's just say every coach hopes and prays that none of their players do anything stupid enough that would require a break in their vacation and, trust me, a month comes and goes faster than you could imagine.

Of that month's vacation, the first week will be spent getting in the way. Most of the assistant coaches will make the same mistake I did, which was come home and act like everything and everyone needed my help, like it was broke or something, and I was informed I needed to take a chill pill or go back to work. Most of the assistants are gone so much that their wives run everything and do a pretty good job. They handle getting this child here, that one there, cook this meal, plan trips and do everything else a parent does that they have to because the other parent is doing their equally important role, but unfortunately, is gone if not physically or mentally for the majority of the year because he has to be. I know what it was like when I was coaching, so I can't imagine things have changed that much.

Besides the first week of just getting in the way I spent it trying to remember whether or not I took care of everything I needed to do in the office before I left, or in other words, I had to learn how to relax and stop being programmed. Most of you know what I'm talking about. These coaches go into the office around 5:30 a.m. during the season and put in anywhere from 18-20 hours a day. During the off-season they might not be in so early, but they are away more often either working out a player, or dealing with their own. It takes awhile to break that habit, so with learning how to relax and staying out of the way the first week off is full of adjustments and it takes everyone working together, therefore, an assistant never stops coaching.

Then in the second week a calm starts to come over everyone involved, and the family starts to enjoy each other. That again is because the smart assistant realizes that he has no real control at home, either, so he does the most important thing that assistants learn how to do and that is perform the ART of ADJUSTMENT.

The third week off is total heaven because everything is clicking, the family is working like a fine oiled machine, and then all of a sudden someone looks at the calendar and then reality slaps everyone in the face because at that moment, it's over. The vacation is ending because with the fourth week the countdown begins, the assistant starts to prepare himself for missing his wife, his children, his dog and any other life all in the name of football.

We don't often talk about these guys, but they include coaches like Edgar Bennett, Winston Moss, Bob Sanders, Robert Nunn, Carl Hairston, Kurt Schottenheimer, Lionel Washington, Eric Lewis, Mike Stock, Rock Gullickson, Mark Lovat, Jimmy Robinson, Ben McAdoo, Ty Knott, Jerry Fontenot, James Campen and Tom Clements.

Trust me, I don't feel sorry for them because they chose this life and because of this life they can provide for their families. These men spend countless hours watching film, and working their butts off trying to help the Green Bay Packers represent themselves proudly in the National Football League. I know just how much the people in their lives sacrifice because in reality even though their husband or father comes home for a month they only have a short while for FAMILY TIME.

Harry Sydney

Harry Sydney is a former fullback and assistant coach for the Green Bay Packers. E-mail him at

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