NEW YORK -- A record 96 minority coaches have taken part in this summer's NFL Minority Coaching Fellowship.
The program, named in honor of former San Francisco 49ers coach Bill Walsh, attracted former Washington Redskins tackle Chris Samuels, former Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Derrick Brooks, and ex-Rams receiver Isaac Bruce, all of whom retired this year.
"Everything was great," said Samuels, who played 10 NFL seasons and was one of five former players to intern with the Redskins. "I learned from a great group of coaches who are experienced in the NFL. I was in a great situation to learn how to coach football. I have always known that I wanted to coach football once I retired. This is always what I wanted to do, so now I'm just going to the second phase of my life."
Current head coaches Marvin Lewis of Cincinnati, Mike Tomlin of Pittsburgh, Lovie Smith of Chicago and Raheem Morris of Tampa Bay came through the internship program.
Lewis, last season's coach of the year, interned with the 49ers (1988) and Kansas City Chiefs (1991).
"My opportunity with the fellowship was a great exposure to new ideas," says Lewis. "It was just so valuable to coach alongside the San Francisco 49ers staff on a daily basis, seeing the quality and expertise that go into every aspect of NFL coaching. The things I learned then that I still apply today are most notably in the areas of scheduling and attention to detail. I hope the coaches that we've hosted in the fellowship learned some of the same valuable things from our staff."
Hall of Fame coach Walsh conceived the idea of the internship, which exposes talented minority college coaches to the methods and philosophies of summer NFL training camps. In 1987, Walsh brought a group of minority coaches into his 49ers training camp.
The program has mentored more than 1,500 minority coaches through the years. This summer, such former NFL stars as Terrell Davis, Dermontti Dawson, Will Shields, Greg Lloyd, Sam Madison, Steve Atwater and Hall of Famer Rod Woodson participated.