The Best Coach Nobody Knows

Tom Marino has worked with some of the best coaches on the game over his career in professional football. Parcells, Belichick, Ditka and Mora all considered some of the most talented individuals to have ever walked the sidelines, but in Buffalo Bills special teams coach Bobby April truly believes he has found their professional equal.

He has been a highly successful coach for seventeen years at the professional level for the Falcons, Saints, Steelers, Rams and Bills, spent thirteen years as a valued assistant at the collegiate level for Southern Mississippi, Tulane, Arizona U and USC and two seasons as a prep coach, but for some reason beyond my comprehension, Buffalo Bills assistant head coach and special team coach extraordinaire Bobby April, has never been given serious consideration for a head coaching position at either the professional and collegiate level.

I was briefly introduced to Bobby for the first time some fifteen years ago while waiting by for an elevator during practice week at the Senior Bowl, but had long before that decided that I didn't like this intense, animated enthusiastic coach with our division rival Atlanta Falcons. The Saints and Falcons had some classic battles during that period of time, but it always seemed in the Falcons victories that Bobby's special team units proved to be the difference.

It wasn't till 1996 when Bobby joined the Saints staff that I came to realize the first impressions are not always accurate. During his four years with the Saints and three years with the Rams, I came to know Bobby as possibly the most intelligent, organized, innovative, loyal, competitive and hard working individuals I have ever met in my thirty-four years in professional football.

I noticed in his first season with the Saints that during our spring scouting meetings that Bobby was not only in attendance during the kickers, punters and return specialists meeting, but I an the rest of the scouts observed him sitting inconspicuously in the back of the meeting room, taking notes on the seemingly endless parade of prospects and suspects. At times I would observe Bobby working on special team projects, but during our breaks I was amazed with his note taking and the excellent questions he posed to the scouting staff.

Although Bobby is widely recognized by most of his fellow coaches within the NFL as the top special teams coach in professional football, you wouldn't know it by his easy going nature and friendly demeanor. He's got a great sense of humor, communicates extremely well, but when the whistle blows, the proud father of five is all business.

I've observed him in meetings, interacting with his fellow coaches, in practice sessions and most importantly with the game on the line and I have never seen him waiver, not for a single second.

The number of special team coaches that later went on to become head coaches in the NFL can be counted-on in one hand, but I believe that the recent success of Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, a long time special teams coach with the Eagles, certainly enhances his chances. While we are on the subject, Ray Perkins first special team coach with the Giants, a fellow by the name of Belichick, hasn't fared too badly during his subsequent coaching career.

As much as I tried, I'm probably never going to completely understand why a experienced proven professional like Bobby April has never been given the opportunity to compete as a head coach in the ultimate of all football leagues, but I hope for his sake and the good of the game that his time is soon to come.


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