Just two months ago, Josh McCown announced he was retiring from the NFL after 17 seasons and had taken a job as a high school football coach. In mid-August, the 40-year-old McCown decided to come out of retirement to be Carson Wentz’s backup quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles. And he’s still a high school football coach.
McCown told NJ Advance Media that being able continue to coach football for Myers Park High School in Charlotte, North Carolina, was one of his must-haves if he was going to return to the NFL. When the Eagles called him, needing to replace backup Nate Sudfeld, they met all of his other qualifications (contending team, strong roster, good organizational structure), so they worked out a deal on the coaching: If the Eagles’ schedule allows, McCown can fly to Charlotte after practice on Friday, coach his team, and then fly back promptly.
Basing your un-retirement plans on whether an NFL team will allow you to coach high school football seems a little extreme (it’s the NFL, after all), but McCown was already happily living his post-NFL life. When he retired, he truly retired. It wasn’t something he was trying out because he’d grown tired of the NFL.
McCown threw himself into his role as high school football coach. He paints lines on the field, attends every single meeting and practice, and will pick up balls on the field in the rain when everyone else has run for cover. He works with the quarterbacks (two are his sons), but also the receivers. He watches film with them and answers their questions about what it’s like to play in the NFL. He comes up with plays, and coaches on the sideline during games. He’s really just a normal coach — if an active NFL player could ever be just a normal coach.
While McCown just wants to be a normal coach of a high school football team, his players love that they have an active NFL player coaching them. When McCown walked into his school’s locker room after his excellent preseason performance against the Baltimore Ravens, the players spontaneously stood up and applauded him.
“I just wanted them to be focused on the game,” McCown told NJ Advance Media on Tuesday. “That’s the main thing. But I understand, I guess, the situation. To have someone that’s an active player in the NFL, working with, coaching you, that’s unique.”
McCown signed with the Eagles because they “understand the family dynamic,” and are allowing him to continue his post-NFL life while dipping back into professional football to give the team some much-needed QB security. But he’s coaching high school football for a reason that’s closer to the heart.
“I just think I just like the opportunity to share knowledge,” McCown told NJ Advance Media. “These guys, they have dreams, they have hopes of playing good football and they just want the best snap to be a good snap. If you can come alongside them to share some things you learned along the way to try to help them play better, it’s rewarding not only for the player but for me as a person.”
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