Stedman Bailey seems like the type of guy Jeff Fisher would like. Ever since his NFL career was put in jeopardy because of one senseless act of violence, all Bailey has done is grind and work. A blue-collar man if there ever was one, Fisher seems like the type of guy who would reward that type of behavior, but more importantly Fisher seems like the type of guy who would forge a new relationship because of it. So when the Rams waived Bailey in such a way that it allowed him to be near the team, Fisher showed it wasn't just appearances, it was reality.
The Rams waiver allowed Bailey to be placed on the Rams' reserve non-football injury list, but only after he cleared waivers. He was made a coach for the receivers and special teams. It's a role that Bailey is happy to play while he continues to work on proving he can one day step back on the field in a playing capacity.
"It's a very unique situation," Bailey said. "Overall I'm just very grateful for (Head) Coach (Jeff) Fisher and his staff just giving me an opportunity to still be around here with the guys. I still get a chance to work out with the team and just pretty much sit around with all the meetings and learn what it's like to be a coach. So, it's kind of just looking at the game from a different angle, but I'm just grateful for the opportunity.
"I don't know exactly what my role will be, but as of now I've been helping out (Special Teams Coordinator) Coach (John) Fassel with the special teams guys. I played a pretty unique role in the special teams and also with Coach Mike Groh with the wide receivers. Just giving the younger guys my knowledge and trying to make sure those guys are on top of their game with what they need to do."
Bailey is happy to be around the team. That said, it's no secret that he want to play again. To that end, Bailey has been working his Steddy Ambition plan to perfection and he's feeling like it's paying off. Time will eventually tell all, but Bailey's belief in himself makes others believe in him. So even though Bailey feels like he could play right now, he's going to be safe about it and not force the issue.
"Overall, it's been pretty tough but I’m still here," Bailey said. "Still could be a whole lot worse for me. I could not be standing here right now. I'm feeling good. I've got my health, I've got my family, my mind is good. Physically, I feel great. I'm just taking it for what it is. Every day I feel better. It's all good. I really feel like I could [play right now], just being a wide receiver throughout my whole career of playing football I've always been a guy to kind of be able to avoid hits. But I know sometimes things happen and it's not really in my best interest to be taking some hard hits right now. I've still got to let my skull and let my brain heal up a little bit, and that's something that I understand and it is what it is.
"Like I said, I'm just blessed to still be around. I feel really good. Physically, I'm able to run out here just like all the guys, catch balls. Everything feels good. I just kind of took some time off, but I was able to bounce back and recover very well. I definitely feel like I have a chance to step back on the field and be able to continue playing football."
Having your life flipped upside down is crazy enough. Now Bailey is also having to learn a completely different perspective of his job, one usually reserved for people who aren't okaying anymore, but Bailey isn't worried about the transition from player to coach. Having been in many of the same situations, Bailey seems confident that the players respect him because he's "been there."
"I think I’ll transition pretty good," Bailey said. "I feel like a lot of the guys here have a lot of respect for me. They know that when I was out here I would always give my all, just trying to be the best player that I can be. That's what I'll expect out of them, too. Overall, we're trying to come here, we're trying to win games, and be the best team that we can be. So, if I'm in the position that I have to get on some guys' cases, I'll do that. Pull them to the side, talk about it and, 'Let's go be good.'"
For Bailey, football is football. It will all make sense in the end. Just give him a way to help the team and remain in football and he will figure it out. Seeing things from the perspective of a coach is just another way to look at football.
"Well, I understand that the coaches – it really takes a lot," Bailey said. "They have to take a lot of time to put in game plans, really study film and things like that. I've always been able to take a glimpse from a player's perspective. But now, I get a chance to work with Coach Fassel and breaking film down. At the end of the day, it's still football. Still being able to look at football and that's pretty much something that I really love to do, so it's cool."
If Bailey says it's cool, then it's probably cool.