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Tom Nalen coaching at my old high school


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good story about a guy who seems to have his head in the right place


the rookie coach, former Broncos standout center Tom Nalen, retired in January after 15 seasons in the NFL. Unlike his former teammate Brandon Marshall, Nalen is completely satisfied with the salary he will receive for the 2009 football season.


Absolutely nothing.


His reward? The invigorating feeling he gets from coaching young players at the Denver high school, which is a magnet for students for whom English is their second language. He began working with the Rebels, under head coach Tony Lindsay Sr., early this year, with the eighth-grade team in a "futures" program sponsored by the Broncos and the NFL.


"We had an awesome eighth-grade team, and most of those guys are out here now," said Nalen, a Massachusetts native who joined the Broncos in 1994 after playing at Boston College. "I've been telling people that after those three months, I feel like I wasted 15 years of my life in the NFL and feel so much better about where I'm at as a person, contributing to society as opposed to playing football."




"I didn't want to be a head coach," he said. "I just wanted to coach the offensive line."


The initial responses were lukewarm.


That seems surprising, given that it wasn't at all out of line to argue at various stages of his career, Nalen was the Broncos' best player. The kicker was that he was relatively unheralded, both because of his playing position and his scrupulous mandating and policing of the offensive linemen's cone of silence around the media.


Broncos tight end Daniel Graham intervened after Nalen told him of his desire to coach in the DPS. Graham had played for Lindsay at Thomas Jefferson High. He told Nalen to give his old coach a call. Nalen left a message for Lindsay, and the South coach confesses that he thought it was a joke and didn't return the call. The next call was from Graham, and Lindsay laughed as he related the rest of the conversation.


"Coach, did Tom call you?" Graham asked. "He said he called you!"


"Tom who?" Lindsay asked.


"Tom Nalen."


"So that really was him?"


Lindsay and Nalen quickly reached an agreement.


"Last year, I started thinking about it, and for some reason, I wanted to coach in the DPS," Nalen said. "The coaches here seem to have a lot more authority here as opposed to the parents in the suburbs. Maybe it's you eventually can become a mentor to some of these kids and make sure they get to college."




Nalen said this coaching position won't be a brief interlude.


"This IS a job for me," he said. "When people ask me what I do, I say I coach football. Regardless of what level it's at, this is what I do. I'm pretty jaded with the NFL right now. I love my family, I love spending time with them, and college and the NFL is not the place to be if you want to spend time with your family. It's too much of a time commitment, and I'm not ready for that.


"This is something I want to do. I told the freshmen, 'Learn these (blocking) calls because until they fire me, these are going to be your calls, so you better learn them.' "


And will his linemen be allowed to speak to reporters?


"I hope they get an opportunity to talk to the media," Nalen said. "I hope they're doing that well. But if the chance comes, there's no way they're talking."



Edited by Azazello1313
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