A lot of times when we talk about the failure of Herman Edwards as a head coach in Kansas City, we lose sight of some of the very clear success stories. At the top of that list is that of Detroit Lions assistant coach Daron Roberts.
Roberts caught the eye of Edwards because he was willing to turn his back on a career in law to give coaching a try, so the Chiefs head coach tried him out as an intern and as ESPN The Magazine recalls, things took off from there.
Typically, NFL interns start right before training camp begins in July and slog through until it ends in August. By the time the preseason gets going, they have two options: beg to stay on with the team as an unpaid volunteer or head home. On the last day of training camp, Roberts worked up the courage to tell Edwards he was willing to do whatever it took to stick around. “He stood in front of me with all that schooling, saying he wanted to be a football coach,” Edwards says. “I thought, Either there’s something wrong with him, or he really does want to coach.”
Edwards allowed him to stay, on the condition that he gain coaching experience by working with a local high school team at the same time. But the go-ahead from Edwards wasn’t enough. Even though Roberts had walked away from a law career to handle menial tasks like stocking the team kitchen and ordering food for the players (never underestimate how much a 300-pound lineman loves his Cap’n Crunch), he still had to prove his intentions to the KC brass, who wouldn’t let him travel with the team. When the Chiefs headed to Houston for their first game, Roberts flew on his own dime, then rented a car, met the team at its downtown hotel, attended Saturday night meetings and drove 15 miles to the cheapest motel he could find. (He had some savings from his summer jobs in law school and was also teaching two online courses, in government and economics, for Northeast Texas Community College. Even so, many of his meals consisted of peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches finagled from the team kitchen at Arrowhead Stadium.) On game day, Roberts helped out on the sideline, then hopped a flight back to Kansas City. His bosses took notice. “For every game after that,” Roberts says, “I flew with the team.”
Just an amazing story. Not to rely on cliches here, but Roberts is the perfect example of truly following your dreams.
Think about it, who wouldn’t want to go and work for the Chiefs?
I’d love to go and assist Todd Haley and if he allowed me to do so I’d be there tomorrow ready to go. Like Roberts I played football in high school and have always considered myself a student of the game. The difference with me is that I can barely spell lawyer and wouldn’t be leaving behind a lucrative salary to work for peanuts. Instead it would be more like leaving peanuts for a different batch of peanuts.
You can read Roberts’ full story in the May 17th issue of ESPN The Magazine.