March 27, 2011 at 6:04 PM
Bobby Engram admits he had a "mini Brett Favre episode" this year when deciding whether to retire as a player or not.
Ultimately, the former Penn State receiver chose a new career path, and he will begin his duties as an offensive assistant coach with the San Francisco 49ers this season.
The featured speaker at the 14th annual Student-Athlete Scholarship Banquet sponsored by the Central Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame on Sunday afternoon, Engram spoke about his transition to coaching and Joe Paterno's influence on his decision to end his playing days.
On Paterno's tenure with Penn State: "In my experience, it's extremely rare. The NFL is a totally different life. It's about winning. If you don't win, you understand that things are going to change, and college is just mirroring that. It's becoming like a minor league system, for lack of a better word. I heard a statistic once, and I don't know how many coaching changes there have been since he first took over at Penn State, but that ability and that consistency that he brought to this program is unparalleled, unmatched. It just doesn't happen. I don't know if it's ever gonna happen again with the way coaches change jobs so often."
On his new job with the 49ers: "The last two months have been spent transitioning into my coaching life as opposed to my player life. I'm getting used to hearing coach Engram. When i hear that, i think someone's calling my father. But it's been a pleasurable experience to have year off to talk to my family and to weigh my options. I always knew I wanted to coach but I just had to make sure that it was something that'd be right for my wife and kids and our entire family. Whenever she put her stamp of approval on it, it just happened pretty fast. I had a connection with the 49ers, they flew me out for an interview and things went extremely well. I'm fortunate to be with an organization that has a lot of rich history but in the last decade, they haven't been able to accomplish much. So I'm excited in terms of having the opportunity to get them back on top and getting back to winning Super Bowls."
On the NFL lockout: "It's been a little strange for me just coming from playing for 14 years and transitioning to coaching. I'm seeing both sides of it and I'm just optimistic that we'll get a [Collective Bargaining Agreement] done, It's just a matter of when. People have to realize that is a business. It's unfortunate that it has to go this route but the negotiations will get worked out, there will be football. It's just a matter of when. I hope it's done sooner rather than later for the good of the game, the players, the owners, the fans, everybody involved. We have a great thing going right now with the NFL and hopefully we won't do anything to harm that."
On the influence Paterno had on him to go into coaching: "It's not something that I initially thought about, but as i look back, hindsight is 20/20. I actually called Joe a couple times and spoke to him about it just to get his opinion, his input. Obviously he's talked to every coach and coaches are probably calling him to find about players. So I just called him to get his input and he gave me some great, sound advice that I was able to follow. Just seeing the way he did it, it's just something that you can only hope to emulate."
On leaving his playing days: "It's all relative for what I did. I feel good. I feel like I could still play but at the same time, I didn't want to pull a Brett Favre on you guys. I had a mini Brett Favre episode this year. I mean you're a competitor. For me, it was about preparing, the competition, the camaraderie, the lasting friendships that you made here in college and I still talk to these guys, and in the NFL. There's just something about being in a football locker room when you play at a high level, it's something special. That's what I'll miss. I'll miss the guys. I'll miss playing on Sundays. I won't miss the practices and the ice baths and the bumps and the bruises. But I just tried to give it everything I could when I played so that I wouldn't have any regrets. And I don't. I gave it everything that I have."