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Monday, July 13, 2020

Coal City, Herscher coaches get dream convo with NFL Super Bowl Champ, Wade Phillips

Two local coaches got a chance to pick a mind of one of the NFL’s premiere defensive minds while COVID-19 in sweeping the world.

Anthony Engelman has grown up in the area his whole life and has developed a passion for football. Now post college, he coached on the Coal City Coalers staff last year as an offensive assistant, Running Back and Linebackers coach.

A couple years ago he met Max Fransen, now Defensive Coordinator and Linebackers coach at Herscher High school. The two quickly bonded over football, both have been coached by their dads in some fashion and got that love for the game.

Wade Phillips is an unemployed coaching veteran who has coached football in either College or Pro ranks since 1969 when he was the Graduate Assistant for the Houston Cougars (except for 3 years between 1970-1972). His most recent job was the Defensive Coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams from 2017-2019.

Philips is a 45 year NFL coaching veteran but is still hip with the times. He has his own twitter account @sonofbum and recently open the ability for people who followed him to direct message him for the first time. He did this to talk with younger coaches and share stories while COVID-19 in sweeping the world.

Anthony reached out to Wade just taking a shot in the dark. To his surprise Wade got back to him a few days later, getting a 45 minute video call set up for May 15th. Anthony knowing Wade is one of the premiere defensive minds in football reached out to Max and got him involved as well.

Both guys approached the interview slightly differently. Anthony said, “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous.” he continued, “I just didn’t wanna say something stupid, but I also was excited because how many people get this opportunity to speak with someone who has been associated with the NFL for so long.”

Max had a different attitude, “I’m more nervous for this interview than I was for that.” Max later said, “I was just excited man.”

The nerves that both guys may have had disappeared right away when they started talking to the long time NFL coach.

Max had this to say about Wade’s demeanor, “I was surprised at how much he shared, it wasn’t forced, he shared everything he could on each answer.” Both Anthony and Max emphasized how relaxed, light hearted and friendly the now 72 year old coach was. Anthony phrased the general content of the talk this way, “Very friendly guy, lots of different stories.”

The conversation lasted an hour and 10 minutes and it was Anthony who cut off Wade Phillips and wrapped up the call. A love of talking football with anyone no matter the age was incredibly apparent.

Max and Wade went into schematics and defensive techniques but one coaching theme came up several times, and it has nothing to do with assignments or tackling.

Effort and hustle and the teaching of such was emphasized to the two young coaches. In sports when you hear of the best you usually hear of “an extra gear” whether it be speed or ability when it matters most. Phillips shared his belief that as a coach you need to teach your players to play in this extra gear all the time and never give up on a play.

“He taught effort and hustle as another skill.” Max said, “He set clear expectations.” Anthony followed up on that saying, “That’s something we can push as high school coaches we don’t push them they gotta push themselves.” A clear combination of teaching hustle, scheme and effort. Having clear expectation and holding players to a standard is something both men took away.

A very important thing especially at the any level is respect between coaches and players. If a coach doesn’t have the respect of his players then the team simply won’t be as good as it can be. Phillips put an emphasis on being yourself and being honest to get respect, even from superstar NFL athletes. “If you stay true to yourself you can garner respect.” is how Max phrased it.

Right before the video call was over Wade Phillips told both young men they would do great things, they were doing the right thing by reaching out to coaches and looking for advice and knowledge. Speaking of the great things comment Anthony said, “It meant a lot to me, he didn’t have to say that.” Both said this talk gave them some hope that maybe they could accomplish their coaching dreams. Anthony put it, “makes you realize you can do it.” “Keeping working on you, no matter where you are at someone will notice you just put in the work.”

Wade Phillips himself was kind enough to to give his thoughts on the interaction, “That’s the way I learned football- from other coaches. Just my way to give back.”

After the call was over both were still full smile and nearly a week later you could see a visible glow in both men talking about the interaction with a giant in the industry and sport they love.

Max talked to Wade Phillips again on Friday, for the 22-year-old Engelman and the 25-year-old Fransen networking will be important if they are to reach the jobs they dream of. these continued conversations in reality can help do what everyone wishes to do, achieve those dreams.

Michael Dion
Michael Dion
Limestone Twp native who recently graduated from Western Illinois Univ - Sports Broadcasting. Winner of national and state play-by-play awards. Sports podcaster, writer, fan, gamer. #GoSox

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