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Bleacher Report – Vikings

He has a new title, but Terence Newman has been coaching for years

By Matthew Coller

Terence Newman was doing fine for the first eight minutes or so, but then it hit him.

On Saturday, the Minnesota Vikings’ new nickel/defensive backs coach announced his retirement from the NFL after 15 seasons. They gave him an office. Mike Zimmer tasked him with looking into something for Week 1’s matchup with the San Francisco 49ers and Newman had a very long first day on the coaching staff.

On Monday, he held his first press conference as a coach.

“If the hours are anything like they were yesterday… I’m not going to have many friends outside of this building,” Newman joked.

It wasn’t until the latter half of his 13-minute talk with the media that he was hit by the weight of his NFL career coming to an end.

“I’ve loved this game since the day I played it,” Newman said.

He paused and then looked down at the floor, holding back tears. When Newman gathered himself, he said:

“But it was my time, you know?”

For about 10 seconds after the completion of his answer, the Vikings’ media room was silent as the former Cowboy, Bengal and Viking stared forward, looking a little stunned by his flood of emotions.

Dealing with the end of his playing career will be much tougher for the 40-year-old than adapting to his new role — because it’s not all that new.

In a league in which the average career lasts less than four years, Newman has been an elder statesman for about a decade. Along the way, he’s been a mentor to numerous players, especially in the Vikings’ locker room — he’s taught everyone from former first-round pick cornerback Xavier Rhodes to his locker mate linebacker Eric Kendricks to star receiver Stefon Diggs.

“Some guys can tell you about their position, they can tell you about what they did, but he’s a guy that can tell you about the big picture of things,” Zimmer said.

There is no better evidence of his big-picture understanding of the game than his 2017 season. With Trae Waynes ready to take over as a full-time outside corner, Newman moved into the nickel corner role basically for the first time in his career. Imagine switching jobs after 14 years. Yet he played 55 percent of snaps at age 39 on the No. 1 defense in the NFL.

He also held extra film sessions with the corners to help them prepare each week.

“Having helped younger guys from when I was in Dallas, to Cincinnati, to here I feel like it’s kind of like a fraternity of sorts,” Newman said. “We play DB it’s one of the hardest positions. You’re doing something unnatural going backwards while you have a guy running forward at you. I feel like you must pass on knowledge when you can because the position is hard enough and I’ve played long enough, been in the system long enough. I feel like I can definitely help in different areas.”

Understanding the big picture goes beyond X’s and O’s. It’s being able to see what’s best for the team even if it isn’t best for him. And in this case, that meant giving the Vikings an open roster spot to keep another young defensive back rather than keeping his job.

“There’s guys you really want to stay because you know they’re good players but [they] might have been bumped out just because another guy they had to keep or whatever,” Newman said. “Body still feels good, I have some aches and pains here and there but at the end of the day my body is not what it used to be. Somebody that’s younger at whatever position could definitely use that roster spot.”

It’s no mistake that Zimmer and Newman ended up together in Cincinnati and Minnesota. Newman has been at the center of the Vikings’ locker room mentality of passing down knowledge from proven players to those less experienced.

Star pass rusher Everson Griffen explained:

“That is how you win,” he said. “What is it, you’re strong as your weakest link? Everybody has to be strong. I feel like the faster you get them groomed up and trained and prepared to play on game day, like Mike Hughes or Holton Hill. Those guys playing on special teams, getting those guys going and running to the ball. Good things can happen and the faster you get them coached up and on the playbook, great things happen. I think that is what we strive for.”

Zimmer said that he didn’t initially think of Newman as a future coach because he’d always had T-New as a player. It wasn’t until another coach mentioned wanting to hire the long-time defensive back that Newman’s coaching future became obvious.

The Vikings’ head coach isn’t the only person inside the building who impacted Newman’s decision to join the staff. He’s also grown close with defensive backs coach Jerry Gray.

“He’s a great teacher, a great educator, but he’s much like a father figure,” Newman said of Gray. “You get a bunch of young kids here away from their families, and he’s just a great human being. He’s super smart, he’s played the game, I’ve learned a great deal from him. It’s the best situation that I get to help him and work for him and be able to still do some of the things that I love.”

Newman doesn’t know if he’s going to stay on the coaching path — he says that he’s been saving money since third grade, so that won’t be an issue. But he’s long been the guy who stays after practice to help young players with technique for a long time. He’s long been the guy who’s there to answer teammates’ questions. He’s long been the player who watches far more game tape than could ever be considered healthy. So it makes too much sense for him to continue down this path — and maybe someday he will be in Zimmer’s shoes.

As he wrapped up the press conference, one of the Vikings’ public relations people asked: “Any more questions for coach Newman?”

At first he shook his head and laughed, but then henodded. He’s always kind of been coach Newman, but now it’s official.

The post He has a new title, but Terence Newman has been coaching for years appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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