- Transcript of Peter King's podcast interview with Green Bay running back Ty Montgomery and Chargers new head coach Anthony Lynn
Peter King: Privileged to be joined now by Ty Montgomery the former wide receiver for the Green Bay Packers, but now still No. 88, the running back, for the Packers. Ty thanks for being with us.
Ty Montgomery: Thanks for having me.
PK: So I want to explain a little bit about how you first got on my radar screen. I just for fun went to the Stanford-Army football game at West Point in 2014. I just went there to watch the game and I had never been to a game at Army. And so I asked one of the people up there, Hey, who are the prospects on Stanford, who’s going to the NFL? And they said, watch this wide receiver Ty Montgomery, No. 7. So I watched you and you were playing against this guy this cornerback for Army who was feisty and tough and wasn't the most athletic guy but it was a battle all day. And at the end of the game you guys had sort of this long embrace and I said, boy, I wonder what that was about? So I went and asked the kid from Army what happened and he said, I just wanted to tell him it was an honor playing against him. That guy's going to the NFL, it's cool. And if you remember the story, I want you to pick it up, what you said to him after that game.
TM: I don't remember exactly what I said, but I do remember that encounter. I remember it was something about his spirit. I was playing him the whole game and just hearing about him because my teammate Austin Hooper went to highschool with him and that's how I knew he went to De LaSalle. And I just respected his game, I respected him as an athlete and he chose to come to Army. He had other offers to go to other schools and he chose to come to Army and I feel like a lot of us have an understanding of what that commitment means. When you play football at Army, your dreams of being able to play in the NFL, they aren't as good as if you go to another school.
PK: Yeah, you’ve got a four year commitment after that. But what he told me is that you said to him that day, “Hey listen, I really appreciate what you're about to do. Thanks for serving the country.” And he said that was really one of the coolest things. Cuz normally what happens after games is you maybe have a quick embrace, say good luck stay healthy, whatever. But you thought to say thanks a lot for your service.
TM: Yeah it was something about his spirit and that I respected him as an athlete and I respect that he still chose to come to Army. Football wasn't his god. I don't really know how to put it. He saw something else in life ,something greater, and it felt like there was just a purpose there. I’m not sure I would be able to make a commitment to go play for Army because I want to be in the NFL. But I just felt like he saw so much more to life. And to be out there competing on the football field with that commitment that he has to our country, I just thought that was very very admirable.
PK: Ty, you’re about to embark on your first full season as an NFL running back, and the thing I wanted to ask you about was: even though you had played running back some growing up and I guess in high school in Dallas, but you came to the NFL as an absolute no doubt wide receiver. That's going to be your career, nine, 10, 11 years. So I want to ask you, what was the first hint you had that Mike McCarthy was going to ask you to become a running back?
TM: I guess it was before he came and asked me, maybe while we were game planning against Jacksonville for the first game, and I noticed the amount of times that I could potentially be in the backfield for certain plays. And I thought to myself, what would that be like, to be full-time in the backfield? I’ve always loved being back there I think it's a versatile position. You can be a running back and still be able to split out wide and catch the football but it doesn't always work the other way around. So I was excited about it.
PK: And then when did you find out that this was now going to be your job?
TY: I don't remember what week it was but he came to me…
PK: Mike did.
TM: Yeah, Coach McCarthy. And it might have been Minnesota, but he came and asked me what I thought about it and would I be willing to try it. And I said of course, but I want to let you know this isn't just something I want to try and see what happens. If I’m gonna do it I just want to throw myself all the way into the fire, learn everything I need to learn, and start going to meetings today. So that way it's not some long,drawn-out trial process. We’re either going to find out if its going to work or it's not. So I just went head first.
PK: Did you immediately start going to running back meetings?
TM: I did.
PK: With all these, even though they are your teammates, it's just a different world.
TM: Yeah, I did. I went and grabbed my stuff from the receiver room and everybody was like, Woah, whats going on? I guess we lost another one. Not everyone can be a wideout. Because previously, Herb Waters, he had just switched from receiver to cornerback and that was kind of a funny joke and I go into the running back room and everybody's eyes are like, we must be putting in a couple plays or something, and then they're like, Oh, no, he's in here now. And that's when Eddy and the other guys started calling me the running receiver.
PK: So for people who don't know, I want to get down to the nitty gritty of the absolute difference between standing behind Aaron Rodgers surveying the whole field, versus being flanked out and looking around at the guy across from you, maybe looking at the safety, maybe seeing if a linebacker might come over and try to disrupt your route. If you can, just tell me about the biggest differences just in a football sense between playing the two spots.
TM: There's so much more going on as a running back. When you’re back there in the backfield there's so much more you have to think about and everything happens so much faster. Those defensive linemen are moving linebackers are flying and scraping, and now you're watching safeties and the mind games with the safeties are really a factor now. Whereas when you're on the outside you’re trying to find a shell to beat the guy in front of you but you don't have to worry about getting past the first wave of defensive linemen and reading a hole then making someone miss, then in the open field you gotta make another move to try to get an explosive gain. And pass protection.
PK: I have to think that that's a gigantic part of this. Just because it seems to me you're a wide receiver, you are trying to avoid everything. And here as a running back, you’re seeking them out because you have to be the last line of defense for Aaron Rodgers.
TM: Yeah, yeah. That's the biggest difference. As a wide receiver you are never asked to even think about it. We could care less about what blitz is coming as long as it's not off our nose and we have a hot route or a conversion or something. But now I've got to be 100 percent in tune with every blitz and understand where it's coming from and put myself into a position so I can pick it up. But I think being back in the backfield has developed me as a football player, especially my football IQ.
PK: You mean your knowledge.
TM: Yeah, because now I'm in tune with the fronts and the linebackers and the shifts and the gaps in the defense and it helps me figure out coverage more when I'm looking at the linebackers and which side they might be shaded to or if I see a 9-technique slant down hard inside, I know there's probably a blitz coming off his outside cuz somebody's gotta keep contain. It’s just opened me up to a whole lot more of the game.
PK: Now I notice, and again you're gonna have to tell me if this is different. I’m looking at you right now, you're wearing a form-fitting Packers shirt. You're really jacked. Your upper body, you could pass for a very light guard. So have you worked on your strength in the offseason because you want to be a better blocker, or am I guessing wrong? Tell me about what you did this offseason in terms of strength for blocking.
TM: It's got nothing to do with blocking. It’s got everything to do with being a better running back, a better Ty Montgomery. This team needs me to be my best self and that's a runner, a blocker, a route-runner, and a receiver. And that's what I need. So this offseason it was less about staying light and fast enough to move on the outside and beat these 4-3 cornerbacks, and more about how can I be my best overall self. I can't just worry about am I gonna be fast enough to beat these cornerbacks. Now I have to be strong enough, have a good core, to break tackles to fit in tight seams, to stand in there and pick up blocks. It's about the whole package. So this offseason I was trying to let myself be myself. I didn't hold myself back.
PK: What was it like when you're in the huddle early on as a running back? Were there times when Aaron Rodgers might say something to you as you're leaving the huddle? Was that part of it like, the whole on-the-job, on-field education part from Aaron Rodgers?
TM: In the beginning there was, and I didn't like to rely on him for that information all the time because he has so much other stuff to worry about. But every now and then if what I was doing was a key factor to what he needed to get done, then he would point me in the right direction. It was still very early in the process. I’m still trying to digest and he knows I’ve never heard about protections or these fronts or these calls, or picking up blitzes. So he was very helpful in that sense as far as helping me transition.
PK: I would assume you’ve got to be very conscientious about that knowing that there are probably gonna be some plays where you’re the last line of defense for one of the great quarterbacks of all time, so you’re thinking to yourself, I’ve got to know what I’m doing on this play, especially in blitz pickup.
TM: Yeah there's gonna be a lot of that in basically every play. The No. 1 rule we have as running backs is we will protect the quarterbacl, that's first and foremost. But you know, another key component in protection is knowing where the blitz is gonna come from and being fundamentally sound and having good technique and being able to pick up the blitz. But it's also having good fakes. A lot of times if we do our job and take the right path and have a good fake, a great sell, it’ll open up something in the passing game. A great fake and a great sell comes from being able to have a great run game. So the running back position seems almost kind of circular, you gotta have everything clicking at all times.
PK: Ty, how would you describe what happens when you get the ball handed to you and you're looking in front of you and trying to figure out, where am I going what am I doing? I once asked Adrian Peterson this question and he said, “The thing I always think about is, if the other team, let’s say its Tampa, is wearing red, I’m running away from red. My first job is anytime I see red I'm going the opposite direction. Not backwards, but away from that.” But describe to me, what exactly are you looking for and trying to do when you get a handoff?
TM: The same thing, but I'm gonna go a little more in depth. Sometimes if you're outside and you're looking for someone and you don't just focus on one thing at a time and your vision opens and you wait until you think you see a flash of the color shirt that they're wearing and you focus in on that shirt. So when I get the football my eyes just go wide. I’m not focused on one point. I know where my read is, I know what color the other team is, and my eyes go wide and I just feel my way until I get to the second level and then I gotta hone in on that guy I gotta make miss in the hole. I can’t tell you what number I just ran past. Someone from the defensive line or sometimes a linebacker, depending on the kind of run it is, but I can usually tell you the number of the player in the secondary once I get up there to him.
PK: What about the physical aspect of the game? You might go the whole game maybe getting tackled twice as a wide receiver, and maybe you're blocking or trying to hold a cornerback out from getting into the play but in general here, you carry the ball 20 times, you could be in a pig-pile 20 times. So what is the physical aspect of it like?
TM: It’s a lot more fun.
PK: Is it?
TM: A whole lot more fun. Always in the football game, and every play you're involved. There's physical contact whether you're carrying a ball or you picked up a blitz or you picked up a football. You're running downfield trying to chase the wide receiver, trying to cover and block for him. You're just always in the play. There aren't any more of those games where you get two targets, maybe you catch one of ‘em. Maybe you don't get any targets, any action whatsoever until the third or fourth quarter. Every quarter of the game you're getting action and you're involved in the play and you're doing something to help the team.
PK: What did you feel like on Monday morning after a heavy workload as a running back vs. a wide receiver?
TM: Honestly, for me it didn't feel that different. Unless I took a brutal awkward hit where something got banged up. Otherwise it just felt like another day at the office. I wake up sore, my body hurts. I would like to think that when I was playing receiver I was a little more physical than the other guys, I wasn't as fast as some of the other receivers so I prided myself on blocking and trying to go get safeties. I didn't really like to catch the ball and get out of bounds. That's one of the things I hated about being a receiver.
PK: Did you have a welcome to the NFL moment as a running back in one of your early games? Did anyone on the defense ever say anything to you? Or did you ever have a moment where you said, whoa, so this is what it’s like?
TM: I'm trying to think and there's nothing that really stands out to me, no.
PK: How about this, what's the run last year that you’re most proud of?
TM: There are a few runs I'm thinking of, but one of the runs I'm thinking of was against Dallas.
PK: In the playoffs.
TM: In the playoffs, I think it was in the first quarter. And as I'm going through this process I’m really learning about my reads and how run plays work and finding the flow of the defense, finding where cutback lanes are, and when you can and can’t vs. when we’re blocking the defensive end backside and when were not. And I think it was an outside zone play that I was finally able to see the cutback behind the center I think. And I forget who it was, I wanna say it was TJ Lang who had a good block. No, it was Cory. It was Cory and then Rip filled up through the whole and I was able to make a real quick jump-cut. Then one foot in the ground, cut back outside and up the field and it was a good 12-15 yard gain. I was so proud of myself because I was watching film trying to find the best way to do it. I was watching Christine Michael and he was coaching me up on how to do it and when I can and how to see it before the ball is snapped and I was really proud of myself on that one.
PK: How did you find out at the end of the year that this was gonna be your job now? Did Mike or anybody tell you that this was gonna be your job?
TM: I don't think so. I don't think that conversation needed to happen because after a certain point I was the only running back left and I kinda figured, hey, this is it. I kinda found my niche on the team.
PK: One other thing I was curious about. Now that you're a running back, if I asked what you wanted to be for the next 10 years, a running back or a wide receiver, what would you say?
TM: Running back.
TM: It's just me. It feels natural. It's fun. I like being back there. From the running back position I can still motion out, go run a route, go run a 15 yard comeback. I think of a perfect drive I want to have in a game and I want to be able to have a few good runs, have an explosive run inside and outside. A third-and-short, go get the yards. Motion out from the backfield, run a route, catch the football and then stand in there and catch a few blitzes while Aaron throws a touchdown pass. Or if that doesn’t happen we get to the goal line and I get a goal line score. Just to be able to do everything. Running back gives me the ability to do everything and I absolutely love it. It's a whole lot of fun, it challenges me, and I love being challenged.
PK: So did you decide to keep No. 88 and do you think eventually the NFL is gonna make you change your number?
TM: I did decide to keep it.
PK: Why did you do that, uniqueness?
TM: Uniqueness, and I think it tells my story a little bit. Where I came from as far as my career in the NFL. I think it's just kind of a reminder, maybe serve as motivation for some kid who sees No. 88 back there and questions, “Why is No. 88 back there?” And he’ll learn that he was playing receiver and he was asked to do this, so he stepped up to the challenge for his team. Or whatever the case may be. There's a number of positive reasons that I think it's not such a bad idea to keep the number.
PK: I’ve always loved the college numbers where you look, remember Devin Gardner the quarterback from Michigan, he was number 98? And I love guys who have weird numbers at different positions. I think Jalen Smith for Notre Dame was No. 6 or something…
TM: No. 2, yeah.
PK: I wish guards were No. 11 or something, it's just kind of fun. But you’ve really got the most unique number in the NFL.
TM: Yeah, I love it. If I end up being the most unique player in the NFL, I would be happy with that career. I want to leave my name somewhere. I want to leave a legacy and something for my family and my kids to be proud of and a good foundation for them to stand on.
PK: Last thing. Every year in Green Bay, great expectations. Superbowl or bust. I wonder how you like living with that and being in this building. Being in Lambeau field, being in Green Bay. do you feel it as a player?
TM: Personally I don't really feel it. I can't speak for everyone, and I don't want to take anything away from anyone upstairs and what they're going through. Obviously the head coach is gonna feel more pressure, our quarterback is gonna feel more pressure than I do. But I definitely know it's there and from my perspective as a young player as a running back, I think in a way it's positive to know that our fanbase thinks Super Bowl or bust because I think that shows the type of support, the type of belief they have in us, the type of mentality we have here. I mean we have that same mentality. From Week 1 we’re playing to win a Superbowl, so it kinda comes with the territory. If you’re a winning team people are going to expect you to win.
PK: Well Ty Montgomery, thanks for coming on the podcast. I got a look at what it's like to change positions. I have to admit, I thought you were going to say, I miss being out there, being all free.
TM: I don’t.
PK: You like being in the pinball machine!
TM: I like being back there and breaking tackles, making guys miss, breaking big runs and then being able to split out there, catch a ball, maybe make a guy miss. It makes me appreciate the wide receiver position a little bit more because now I'm able to get my fix, get my touches running the football. So now when I'm out there I can be a smarter receiver, I can run a 15-yard route, toe-tap and get out of bounds or try to make the difficult catch and stay in bounds. I’m gonna get my carries now.
PK: Joined today, probably the first time I've done a podcast interview in a conference room at a Marriott hotel, in Irvine, CA, but this is what NFL training camps have become these days. I’m here with head coach of the Chargers, Anthony Lynn. Anthony thanks a lot for being with me.
AL: Thanks for having me, Pete.
PK: So over the years we've gotten to know each other a little bit, a couple of times we flew to the scouting combine together out of New York. And quite honestly, I never thought you were gonna be an NFL head coach. I used to say, this guy would be a really really good coordinator. I just didn't know that you were ever going to get that chance.
AL: You mind me asking why?
PK: Because there are so many good assistant coaches, good position coaches. And if you stay a position coach for a long time, that's what you are. You’re a position coach. And you might in your mind say, I’m better than that guy, but you’ve got to get a chance. And my feeling is as unfortunate as it probably was, you got your chance with the Buffalo Bills, with Greg Roman leaving and Rex Ryan leaving. And the reason is, it's like what Richie Incognito told me about you last year, because I asked him when the Bill's job was open, I asked, what do you think of Anthony Lynn’s chances of getting this job? and he said, “Well, I don't have any idea but guys in that locker room really like him, but more importantly they respect him. So if ownership comes to us and says, what do you think? that's what the guys on this team would say, even defensive guys.” But I think it's good that you got the chance because you showed that not with top 10 talent on that team that you could be a really competitive schemer, game planner, and in your brief time, a competitive head coach. What was that like for you last year? Getting your chance in the middle of the mayhem?
AL: It was pretty wild. We’re going out to take a team photo, and after the team photo I'm the coordinator. I had no idea before the photo. So I kinda had to cram a little bit and get the offensive coaches schemes to them. But I couldn’t do too much because we had just been in a whole offseason with a training camp, so I couldn't really make changes at that point. I was basically stuck with what I had, had to make some tweaks to it. And then at the end, that was only for three days. I became the head coach on Wednesday night. We’re flying to New York and nothing really changed in that experience but it was definitely growing process for me. Not just utilizing my talent, but utilizing the coaches and their abilities because I had those guys try some different things. And I think we were pretty successful to a point with what we had to deal with. It was a good experience.
PK: What was it like last year the first time you stood on the field with all eyes on you as one of 32 as an NFL head coach?
AL: That was exciting. But at the same time it was bittersweet because one of my good friends had just gotten fired on Wednesday, and there were a lot of emotions on the staff and with the players. And we didn't want to see that happen because we all felt we had let him down. At the same time, it was nice being one of the 32 even though it was just for three days.
PK: I’ve always wondered what happens in an event like that where you've been with Rex for a long time. And whatever happened, good, bad, indifferent, you are still his guy. And you're still close to Rex. So how difficult was that, when he goes out the door, you take the job and you're still gonna know Rex the rest of your life. How difficult was that with him?
AL: Yeah, it wasn't difficult at all. Rex told me he wanted me to take the job. A lot of times you just turn it over to the special teams coordinator, I stay in my role till the end of the season, then see what happens. But Rex wanted me to take the job.
PK: Anthony, I wonder. Did you ever think that you would get a chance to be either a coordinator or a head coach?
AL: I was beginning to think I would be a head coach before a coordinator.
PK: Wow, because you had had good fortune in some of your interviews?
AL: Exactly. I had been in some interviews and some people had liked it and kind of spread the word, and when I became an assistant head coach I thought I might become a head coach before a coordinator. But it just so happened that, it was unfortunate what happened to Greg Roman, but I became the offensive coordinator in Buffalo first. But I believe I would have become a head coach at the end of the season if I had not taken the coordinator job. I just think it's a different skillset. Coordinating and leading a team are two different skillsets.
PK: Are you more fit to be a head coach?
AL: No, I love calling plays and I miss it right now. I love calling plays, but all the time I wanted to be a head coach. And I told some people this, look at the way we're hiring head coaches, everyone thinks that it has to be tied to a coordinator position and it does not. I think we’re missing out on a lot of good coaches that are not coordinators that could be good head coaches. Look for a guy who can lead men, get the most out of men, a guy that can lead, communicate, a guy they can trust, organize. Look for those things in a head coach, but that's totally different than calling plays.
PK: Tell me about the interview process in past years, before you got this job. What interviews were interesting to you? What did you learn from those interviews as a candidate?
AL: You know, after the first…
PK: What was the first?
AL: The first one was with the Jets. And I did not want to to that interview because I felt I knew what that interview was about. You had to interview a minority before you hire the guy that you wanted. And I wouldn't do it and Rex called me and said, “Do it for the experience.” Todd Bowles called me and said, “Do it.” John Wooton called me and said, “Do it.”
PK: Wooten- Chairman of Fritz Pollard Alliance.
AL: Absolutely. So I finally did it, knowing that it was a token interview, but the knowledge and experience I got from that interview, and the reputation…
PK: Who was in the room?
AL: Charlie Casserly, Ron Wolf, Neil Glat, and someone else I can't remember. But we really connected, it was a good interview. And I learned a lot about what they were looking for because it helped me prepare for the next interview. But those guys kind of spread the word and that's how this thing got started. And then I got a couple interviews next year and I thought I was gonna get the 49ers job. It went down to the wire and I didn’t get that one, so I knew I was close.
PK: Were you surprised they picked Chip?
AL: Well I wanted the job. I thought I was a good fit but I love Chip. I think Chip’s a hell of a coach.
PK: Obviously as an African American coach you deal with the Rooney Rule. What do you think of the Rooney Rule?
AL: The Rooney rule has very good intentions, but I believe some teams abuse it. I told two teams to interview a minority before they called me. And one team did and the other team didn't call back, so I knew what they were all about.
PK: So I’ll give you an example: In my opinion the Rooney Rule legitimately helped Mike Tomlin.
AL: Well, you could say it helped me because if I didn’t do that first interview I wouldn't have had that experience, those connections with Charlie and Ron Wolf…
PK: I understand, but in my opinion, if I were you, I would look at it in a very selfish way. Like, look, I’m gonna go do this interview and Ron Wolf and Charlie Casserly are gonna be in the room. I’m not gonna get this job but I'm gonna show them my personality and who I am, and at the end they’re gonna say, ‘Hey, this guy would be a good head coach.’”
AL: I was selfish the first time. But that was the only time. You're not gonna use me twice. I use you, you use me, but after that there was no more Rooney interviews for me. You had to interview a minority before I came.
PK: So I want to hear your story about the process of getting this job. Just walk me through that process.
AL: Well, I didn't think I was gonna get this job because the Chargers didn't reach out initially. They told me they thought I was going to Buffalo and they didn't want to waste their time trying to get me in and interview me.
PK: And you said, “Waste my time!”
AL: I think a lot of people just assumed I was gonna stay in Buffalo. But I was looking at the jobs that could possibly come open and when I saw the roster here, the location, I felt like this was a really good spot. This was the place I wanted to be. And I was getting a little frustrated because everyone’s calling but they are not calling. And I interviewed with them last, and I think they interviewed 12 people and I was the last one.
PK: What was your intent walking into that interview?
AL: To get that job. And to convince them that I was the right man for the job.
PK: How long were you in the room?
AL: Hours. The first one was five hours. I was supposed to go to the Rams for my second interview the next day and the Chargers told me to stay in town and I did because I really wanted to be here and I got the job the next day.
PK: What was it about you that sold them?
AL: I don't know, because I wasn't in the room with the other interviews, but I just know that we connected. I felt like when the interview was over we were all on the same page. And when I asked what they were looking for in a head coach, I was very comfortable with those things.
PK: It’s very hard for me not to say San Diego Chargers.
AL: Believe me, I know. Check out my first press conference.
PK: I remember it. So this is one of 32, but it's also one with some obstacles. You’re moving, you saw what happened to the Rams last year, the Rams went through a lot of logistical nightmares. What's better for you guys is that you only moved 90 miles away from San Diego. So now that you look at it, how do you think you guys have handled the logistical aspect of this move?
AL: I think our organization has handled that very nicely. They've made this transition as smooth as possible for coaches, players, administrators to move down here and get relocated. Training camp site, it's unbelievable the job they've done with the training camp site, office complex…
PK: I’m surprised at your training camp site. The fields are really nice. Did they play nice?
AL: They played nice, absolutely. And we redid them from scratch, those were soccer fields.
PK: I mean you had 500 people there today. Who knows what the future holds, but that was a training camp, with fans! Screaming for Bosa and Rivers and Gates.
AL: Lot of energy.
PK: I was a lot more impressed than I thought I would be. Because I had no idea if 300 would be there or 4000. Let’s talk a couple of football things. Pretty tough division. The Raiders are rising, Denver thinks their window hasn't closed, the Chiefs do nothing but win 12 every year. And you guys, I was in Denver the other day, and they said, Look at the Chargers. Bosa and Ingram. Hayward has really given them a very good corner, Rivers is Rivers, Keenan Allen, and Melvin Gordon. I’ll tell you this: your team might be pretty good. So analyze what you think you have in this difficult environment, both from the logistics and your division.
AL: Love this division, I think it's one of the toughest divisions in football, but if you want to be the best you have to beat the best. And yes we do have some nice pieces to work with but the fact are the facts. This team has won nine games the past two years. We have to get a lot better. We talked about that last night in our meeting and the guys out on the field are working towards that goal but it's a day to day process. We just want to go out day to day and compete as a team and then we’ll see what happens.
PK: Are you one of those coaches who believes in stacking days and not necessarily just saying, Okay, here's what we need to beat this team or that team?
AL: I think we’re very gameplan specific and things change from week to week. So we’ll do whatever it takes to beat our opponent but I’m a matchup guy. I believe in matchups I believe in people, so I believe we put our guys in the right position and we’re gonna play our best football.
PK: As somebody who had to coach against and gameplan against the Patriots and Bill Belichick, the one thing I’ve always thought with them is that every gameplan is a snowflake. Everything is just different there. So I guess Bill Parcells once said, I asked him in the late ‘80s, why are the NFC teams winning the Superbowl every year? And he said, “Every time you play against the best teams and the best coaches, you’re gonna get better.” And I wonder, do you think you got better coaching against the Patriots and Bill all those years?
AL: Absolutely. I really admire the dynasty they’ve built. When you look at their roster, sometimes it's not the most talented roster, but they play smart, they are tough, and they don’t beat themselves.
PK: Yeah. What do you think it'll be like playing in a stadium with 27 or 30,000 people? With the crowd sort of on top of you and just in a smaller venue? And you're gonna be playing at the StubHub center.
AL: I’m looking forward to it, I think it’s gonna be fun. Exciting, real intimate with the crowd right on top of you. I think it's going to be loud, and I think it's gonna remind some guys of growing up. If you're from Texas that's a high school stadium, but some colleges. Just take us back to our base roots, when you loved this game and it wasn't about the money or anything else. But I'm looking forward to it.
PK: Anthony, I’ve always enjoyed spending a little bit of time with Philip Rivers, every time I’ve been around the Chargers for the last decade or so. I think he's really one of the ultimate professionals that there is. I don't know if he’ll ever win a Super Bowl. It seems to me guys are judged way too much about that. But you've been able to work with and around him for a few months. For people who don't know Philip Rivers that well, tell me what you think of him.
AL: In my time around him, I heard a lot of good things about Philip, that's one of the reasons I wanted this job. It's all true. He's one of the better professionals I've ever been around. His work ethic, his approach to the game, his attitude toward his players and getting the best out of them. When he's on the field, I feel like a coach is on the field and I'm very comfortable with him like that. So I love the guy, and I hope we can get him a Super Bowl ring, because if anyone deserves it, he does.
PK: I want to circle back and ask you one last question about coaching in the NFL right now. So over the years the NFL has sometimes payed a lot of lip service to increasing the amount of African American coordinators, head coaches. So now that you've been involved in this both on the interviewing and hiring end, and you've been in the league for such a long time, if Roger Goodell came to you and asked you for your thoughts on how to improve the lot of African American coaches throughout the NFL and how to raise the level and get more at the coordinator and head coach level, what would you say?
AL: I would say look at the criteria for which we hire coordinators and head coaches. I had a chance one time to go to the passing game side and not coach running backs, but I stayed with running backs because I felt that that position prepared me better. I had to be an expert in the run game, an expert in protection, and God knows that's the hardest thing to do in football right now is to protect the quarterback. If you give up a sack you’ve got a seven percent chance of scoring a touchdown. And, on top of that, you are involved in the passing game. So I felt like that position got me more prepared. Everyone seems to think you have to be tied in with the quarterback. Quaterback coach, receiver, or even a quality control guy that works with the coordinator. They get promoted to a quarterback coach and coordinator positions before running back coaches, tight end coaches, offensive line coaches. And I just think we need to look at that criteria a little differently.
PK: In other words, owners, general managers, a little bit too in love with the passing game people?
AL: I believe so. And I don't understand that, because when you look at the top 10 stats of winning games, passing stats are not even in the top 10. If you can’t run the football, if you can’t protect the quarterback, you're in trouble.
PK: Any progress being made in that way? Or not really?
AL: I think so, you have a lot of people like John Wooten that are standing up for equality in this league and they do a really good job. I think a lot of the owners are more open minded, but I don’t know the numbers. I can’t say for sure.
PK: Right. Just finishing up. I wonder what it feels like for you. Has it hit you that I’m doing what Lombardi did, what one of my early mentors Bill Walsh did? I’m going to be standing on the sidelines controlling the fate of one of 32 teams in the NFL. Has it hit you and is it a big point of pride and honor for you that you are one of 32?
AL: It is an honor, and I do want to make every single one of those coaches proud, that had an impact on my life and my future. You mentioned Lombardi and I read a lot of his books and I really respect what he did for this game and how he coached. What a lot of people don't know is that he was a running backs coach and it took him a long time to get his shot, people kept passing him over. And he became a coordinator one year and then he became a head coach.
PK: Anthony Lynn, Vince Lombardi, ladies and gentlemen!
AL: Don’t you dare, don’t you dare! But it's interesting though, looking back at how he came up, that we’re naming a trophy after a guy who was so frustrated one time that he was about to walk away from the game because he wasn't moving up.
PK: Anthony, I wish you the best. Really glad you’re in this position and I think the Chargers are gonna be the beneficiary.
Thanks for reading and listening, and please leave a review on iTunes if you like the show!