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tk13
01-08-2006, 02:10 AM
http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/sports/football/nfl/kansas_city_chiefs/13574861.htm

Coach driven by family, faith, football
Despite his years away, ties to KC, Chiefs remain strong

By ELIZABETH MERRILL
The Kansas City Star

OLD WESTBURY, N.Y. — Herman Edwards is lying low. The shades in his house are half-drawn, the double doors are closed.

Nothing is getting into this sleepy cul-de-sac at 9:30 on Saturday morning: not the morning papers bashing Herm in 90-point headline type, not the crawls at the bottom of the sports channels that scroll his name every 4˝ minutes.

And nothing is getting out. The doorbell jangles, and a woman answers on an intercom, pauses and says Herm can’t come to the door. Reports say he’s in Philly with Chiefs president/general manager Carl Peterson hammering out a deal. The woman won’t say anything except “Leave your number.”

So the reporters roll out of the circle driveway, past the perfectly manicured hedges that his father, the military man, would’ve loved, past the yellow-and-brick house at the end of the street that is as subtle and unpretentious as his mother, Martha, who was watching ESPN the other day when her Bubi — a German term of endearment for a little boy —–flashed on the screen.

“He’s on TV right now!” she shrieked in a thick German accent. “They’re talking about him!”

Edwards will talk, presumably Monday, when the time is right and the contract is signed to make him Kansas City’s next head football coach. Friends say he loves to gab. Usually he has something meaningful to say.

Sophomore year in high school, Edwards walked into the coach’s office and matter-of-factly said he was going to play in the NFL. Nobody, his mother said, believed him.

“He played defensive safety,” says Dan Albert, his high school coach in Monterey, Calif. “And I can tell you, when that ball went out to that middle zone where he was, you’d turn around and watch the offensive players pick up their helmets, because they knew there was a good chance we’d get the ball back. Of course, it wasn’t always an interception, but it was damn close to it.

“I’m not making that up, by the way.”

Nobody could make this up. Seventy-five miles from where his life started on an Army base in Eatontown, N.J., Edwards’ New York minute is up. One year after he was the toast of the East Coast, with the Jets nearly making the AFC championship game, he packs up after a 4-12 season.

It happens that quickly in New York.

Thursday afternoon, Seaside, Calif.

Martha Edwards returns a call from her home in the Monterey Peninsula, and she’s worried. Her only son is plastered all over the TV, and word is out that the Chiefs are negotiating to pry him away from New York and the Jets are more than willing to say goodbye.

She’s talked to Herm on the phone. At some point that day, he cleans out his office and tells his assistants he won’t be back.

“I like Kansas City,” Martha Edwards says. “I hope to God he goes there. It’s better than New York.”

This, to an 80-year-old mother, is stressful. But in totality, to the Edwards family, it registers slightly higher than a blip on the crisis scale.
Martha grew up in Germany during World War II, when bombs were dropping near her home. She met Herman Edwards Sr., an African-American soldier, while working at a camp where U.S. soldiers were stationed.

“He came up to my counter,” she says, “and we talked.”
They’d have to wait six years to be married and decades to be accepted. People, Martha says, are still prejudiced. The family moved to Seaside in 1959, and Herman Sr. and Martha were the only interracial couple in the neighborhood. Before they could pick out wallpaper, a neighbor started a petition begging the real estate agent not to sell to them.

Months later, the man apologized.

“He said we had the best kids on the block,” Martha says.

She still lives in that house in Seaside. And Herman, who’s 51, is still her Bubi.

Herman Sr. taught his son to be respectful, to stop, get out of the car and salute the flag when the bugles sounded, to love your family and strive for perfection. Herman Jr., according to his mother, can spot a stray thread on a vacuumed carpet. He’s that meticulous.

He’s just as driven. Alone, on the beach, Edwards spent hours each day training as a teen. He wanted to play wide receiver in high school but switched to the secondary because Monterey was a run-oriented team. He made stops at the University of California, Monterey Peninsula Junior College and San Diego State.

He fulfilled his NFL promise in 1977 when Carl Peterson signed him as an undrafted rookie at Philadelphia. Herman Sr. traveled to Los Angeles that fall to see his son play the Rams. He died less than a year later. On his deathbed, he asked Herm to take care of his mother and younger sister Irvina.

“He wanted to prove to his father and to me and to everybody in this little town here that he achieved what he always said he would,” Martha says. “That’s Herman.

“I tell you what — I’ll be honest with you. He’s my love, he’s my life, my son. He always has been from the day he was born.”

Friday afternoon, Hempstead, N.Y.

After a long morning of the call-in sports shows hammering Edwards and his flirtation with the Chiefs, the Jets issue a short statement saying they’ve given Kansas City permission to talk to their ex-coach.

It seemed improbable to the Jets 51 weeks ago. On Jan. 15, 2005, Edwards’ team was on the verge of the AFC championship game, a massive upset over the Steelers, when Doug Brien lined up for a field goal. He missed — twice — in the final two minutes of regulation. The Steelers won 20-17 in overtime.

Anyone with a microphone and an opinion had the Jets zooming toward the playoffs again this year. But the season started with a 27-7 loss to the Chiefs and went downhill with injuries from there.

The weekend of the Chiefs game, Peterson, never one to mingle with the enemy, had dinner with Edwards. Their relationship dated more than 30 years, when Peterson tried to recruit him to UCLA.

Joe Bommarito, a scout for the Jets and seemingly the only person in the organization willing to utter a word about Edwards, refuses to buy into any conspiracy theory.

“I thought Herm was a good fit (for the Jets),” Bommarito says. “He made it a good fit. He was probably the best coaching fit they’d had in there for a number of years.”

With a pack of reporters following a coach’s every move, Edwards managed to hold his own in a cynical environment. He did a training camp for the media to give them a feel for the meetings and the early wakeup calls. In Monterey, he holds a one-week football camp every year, free of charge, for more than 500 kids, rich and poor.

Bommarito, who grew up in the Monterey Peninsula with Edwards, calls him a straight shooter who treats everybody the same. But by the start of last week, the New York media were wondering whether Edwards was being straight.

Chiefs Coach Dick Vermeil had announced his retirement last Sunday, and Edwards’ name was in the thick of the speculation. Edwards dodged the Kansas City questions Monday and moved on.

“After Thursday,” he said in his Monday news conference, “I’m going to rest for a couple of days, because I need it. I’m just going to hold my little girl for a couple of days. That’s kind of important.”

No matter where football took him, from Tampa Bay to New York, Kansas City was never far from Edwards’ mind. It’s where he got his start as an NFL scout and assistant coach. It’s where he called every Tuesday, during the season, to talk with Vermeil and catch up. When Edwards married his wife, Lia, in Monterey, Vermeil and Peterson showed up for the ceremony.

“He really enjoyed his time there in Kansas City,” Bommarito says. “I’m happy for him. I know whatever he does, he’s going to be successful.”

Friday evening, somewhere far from New York

Ray Mickens has just heard that his old coach is leaving the Jets, and he wants to talk.

He remembers the first day Edwards arrived in New York, a defensive mind from the Tony Dungy mold in Tampa, and eagerly met the team. He can repeat excerpts of that first speech almost verbatim.

“He said, ‘God first, family and then football,’ ” says Mickens, now a cornerback with the Cleveland Browns. “Those are his priorities.”

Edwards told the team there would be no cussing from the coaches or the players. And dadgummit, he was serious. He invited the players’ families to practice.

Mickens calls Edwards a rock, a teacher, a players’ coach.

New York observers call Edwards a corporate coach, a manager, a motivator. At 5 a.m., every day, Mickens remembered the same visual — Edwards jogging around the Hofstra University campus, under a dark sky, in the cold and snow.

“He’s the first one there and the last one to leave,” Mickens says. “I can’t say anything negative about him.”

Saturday, Old Westbury.

Every day on his drive home from work this winter, Edwards passes a giant house with a lawn filled with gaudy Christmas inflatables. In the middle stands a giant American flag. Maybe it reminds him of his childhood and his father’s instructions to salute.

Those are the same values he wants to instill in his family. His wife gave birth to a girl, Gabrielle, in August. In between meetings and practices, Edwards tried to squeeze a few minutes of quality time with the baby in his office. His son just finished his senior season at San Diego State. He wants to get into coaching.

Maybe he’ll learn the art of laying low. The contract negotiations are crawling on early Saturday, and Edwards is tucked away from the media. Two notes are stuffed in the handle of the double doors at his house. They’re phone messages. The neighborhood is quiet except for the rustling of some dead leaves in front of his house.

When Edwards was a boy, his dad told him to clean the leaves in the backyard. The Army sergeant inspected the yard, found a few leaf fragments and told his son that day to never miss the corners.

On this Saturday in New York, the leaves are piling up. Edwards will clean them when he comes home.

Halfcan
01-08-2006, 02:17 AM
Nice read, very nice,definately her best. Herm is a great guy, and I hope he sarts by rebuilding our secondary that has been the worst in the NFL for a long time. As a old scout-I hopes he scouts out a couple of hard hitting CB's.

penguinz
01-08-2006, 02:17 AM
Edwards told the team there would be no cussing from the coaches or the players. And dadgummit, he was serious. He invited the players’ families to practice.

I guess Gunther won't be back. No big loss. :p

Logical
01-08-2006, 02:28 AM
Oh boy another touchy feely article. Well I guess I will read it now.

Halfcan
01-08-2006, 02:32 AM
Oh boy another touchy feely article. Well I guess I will read it now.


KC used to be a cow town-now its a Cry town. Jeez, KC Chiefs, cowboy up in 2006, I want to see some f#ckin hitting.

Rausch
01-08-2006, 02:34 AM
This, to an 80-year-old mother, is stressful. But in totality, to the Edwards family, it registers slightly higher than a blip on the crisis scale.
Martha grew up in Germany during World War II, when bombs were dropping near her home. She met Herman Edwards Sr., an African-American soldier, while working at a camp where U.S. soldiers were stationed.

Come on, you knew there was a reason...

Logical
01-08-2006, 02:42 AM
Nice read, very nice,definately her best. Herm is a great guy, and I hope he sarts by rebuilding our secondary that has been the worst in the NFL for a long time. As a old scout-I hopes he scouts out a couple of hard hitting CB's.For that sort of article it was at least well written. Nothing too much of interest but not a total waste of time either.

Redcoats58
01-08-2006, 02:50 AM
Come on, you knew there was a reason...
I didn't know Herm was of German heritage. That makes me like him a little more. Maybe things wont be so bad come next season.

Rausch
01-08-2006, 02:52 AM
“He’s the first one there and the last one to leave,” Mickens says. “I can’t say anything negative about him.”

That's the work ethic that first made me a Gun fan.

That's the attitude that made me respect the Chiefs and much of their staff. That's the kind of days they put in.

You can doubt talent and ability but you can never disrespect drive and determination...

Halfcan
01-08-2006, 02:56 AM
Greg Robinson was the first to arrive and last to leave also. Too bad he spent the majority of the day sleeping in his office.

Rausch
01-08-2006, 02:57 AM
I didn't know Herm was of German heritage. That makes me like him a little more. Maybe things wont be so bad come next season.

It's not the genes that I care for, it's the mentality. Work ethic. Drive. Passion.

He may fail. Only one team wins the super bowl every year.

But how often do you have a HC you WANT to believe in?

And not just for your team, so you can have that moment, but for him as well?...

Redcoats58
01-08-2006, 03:02 AM
It's not the genes that I care for, it's the mentality. Work ethic. Drive. Passion.

He may fail. Only one team wins the super bowl every year.

But how often do you have a HC you WANT to believe in?

And not just for your team, so you can have that moment, but for him as well?...
Yeah I agree. I had that feeling for Vermeil when he first came in and I lost that feeling somewhere along the way. I'm ready for a change. He seems like he may be a good fit, we'll soon find out.

Rausch
01-08-2006, 03:17 AM
Yeah I agree. I had that feeling for Vermeil when he first came in and I lost that feeling somewhere along the way. I'm ready for a change. He seems like he may be a good fit, we'll soon find out.

That's all it takes.

Just a wee bit of faith... :)

milkman
01-08-2006, 10:41 AM
Edwards told the team there would be no cussing from the coaches or the players. And dadgummit, he was serious. He invited the players’ families to practice.

I guess Gunther won't be back. No big loss. :p

I read that and immediately thought, oh man, Gun's head would explode!

ENDelt260
01-09-2006, 12:26 PM
No cussing? Un-f*cking-real.