Q & A with NFL athlete and coach Sam Garnes


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18 Oct 1999: Sam Garnes #20 of the New York Giants questions a call during the game against the Dallas Cowboys at the Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Giants defeated the Cowboys 13-10. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Squire /Allsport

The 1997 fifth round pick or the New York Giants, Sam Garnes was a very well known safety in the Big Apple. He attended John Philip Sousa Junior High School in the Bronx when growing up. He played seven years in the League all while staying in New York. He went from 1997 to 2001 with the Giants, then for the last two years of his career he played for the New York Jets. Garnes is best known for his season opener pick-six against the Eagles in his first game ever. He ran that touchdown back for 95 yards to clinch the game. With his time in the NFL he put up 528 tackles and 10 interceptions.

Garnes would later go onto a career of coaching. He started just when getting out of the NFL. He went straight to Emerson High School were he would coach. Then he would go to a NFL European team called the Cologne Centurions. After that he would make his way to the UFL (United Football League) where he would coach the Las Vegas Locomotives and even win a championship with them. Then he would finally make it to the NFL were he would coach for the Panthers, Broncos, and Bears. Most of his coaching time was spent as a secondary coach, except for the Panthers, where he was the team’s Special Teams coach. As of now, Garnes runs his own camps for high school athletes to give them a chance at the pros.

Q: You got to play on the same team as Amani Toomer, Tiki Barber, and other great players, what was that like?

A: As a player you don’t necessarily think about who you are playing with because your goal is to make a name for yourself. With that being said, these two guys were the epitome of focus, class and work ethic. They both also did a great job of changing the narrative. The start of their careers people gave them labels, and they both did a great job of shedding them and controlling the narrative.

Q:You were able to score a touchdown in the NFL.  What was going through your mind when you scored?

A:That game was an incredible experience. At the time, the Giants were coming off of a few bad years, so we needed a spark that could give us confidence as a team. When you have a few years where you lose, it sort of becomes expected and the norm mentally. I was just happy it came from me in my first game. I had the chance to prove to others that I belonged and I capitalized.

Q: Being able to see all these great coaches from Bill Belichick to Bill Cowher must have been exciting.  Were there any coaches in particular that made you want to start coaching?

A: Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick both had major influences on me. They did the right things and got the right results. They didn’t do it by the book or do it the way everyone else thought you should. They made the best out of what they had and it was truly team first. Not just a saying.

Q: You were able to help coach some great defensive backs like Chris Harris, Jr. and future Hall of Famer Champ Bailey. What was that like?

A: Chris Harris is a great story and to watch him go from undrafted to All Pro was an amazing. (He literally texted me as I wrote that last line, by the way.) He came in and had a chip on his shoulder, worked his butt off, and was prepared when his opportunity came. Champ Bailey and Brian Dawkins were two of the most humble, accomplished individuals you would ever be around. These are to name a few. I had many other guys like Mike Adams, Aquib Talib, Dominique Rogers-Cromartie, Wes Welker (coached him as a returner), Antrel Rolle, etc.

Q: You had your options when going to college. What made you choose Cincinnati?

A: The University of Cincinnati was the first to get after me and I am a loyal guy so, after the visit, there was no other option. I wanted to be a Bearcat and there were like 30 NY/NJ guys there that made me feel somewhat comfortable. I had other big time schools that were calling me at home while I was on my visit, but the decision had been made.

Q: Last question:  What do you want to tell any athlete out there that has hopes of making it to the big leagues?

A: Hoping to go to the big leagues won’t get you there. It has to be a need like no other. You literally need to believe in your mind that you are the best there is and be willing to work in order to prove it when the opportunity arises.