Jets coach Bowles reflects on playing days with Redskins
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Helping Todd Bowles get a Super Bowl ring was just the beginning of Doug Williams’ lifelong assistance for the New York Jets head coach.
Their relationship goes back to 1986 when they were Washington Redskins teammates and neighbors. They lived down the street from one another about a mile and a half apart, and their connection has only grown closer in the three decades since.
Bringing his Jets to Redskins training camp for joint workouts with his former team has brought back fond memories for Bowles, who played seven of his eight NFL seasons with Washington and won the Super Bowl when Williams was MVP in January 1988. His ties to Williams, the Redskins’ senior vice president of player personnel, helped make the joint workouts happen, and Bowles said he owes his ex-teammate for putting him on the road to becoming Jets coach.
“He got me into coaching,” Bowles said. “He gave me my first job at Morehouse College. I was the D coordinator. We remain very good friends to this day.”
Bowles will coach against the Redskins in Thursday night’s preseason game, and he’s still not revealing if rookie Sam Darnold will start over Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater after the third overall draft pick’s impressive debut and work this week.
Richmond wasn’t the site of Redskins training camp when Bowles played, and FedEx Field isn’t the same as old RFK Stadium, but simply being around the Redskins took the former safety down memory lane.
“Just seeing the burgundy and gold has been great,” Bowles said. “Obviously the Super Bowl, but it’s more so the guys I played with: the Darrell Greens, the Charles Manns, the Dexter Manleys, the Wilber Marshalls, the Alvin Waltons and all those guys I played with are really the fondest memories I have.”
Training camp looked like a reunion from Washington’s Super Bowl era with Bowles in Jets green, Williams overseeing practice and the likes of Darrell Green and Brian Mitchell around. It has been 25 years since they were teammates, yet Mitchell said Bowles is “the same guy he was when he played.”
It has been a long time, though, and a long road for Bowles to get here. Williams gave him a good push.
The two scouted the same area when Bowles was with the Green Bay Packers in player personnel and Williams worked for the Jacksonville Jaguars in the mid-1990s, and Williams made his Bowles the defensive coordinator at Morehouse College as one of his first hires in 1997. Bowles followed Williams to Grambling State before bouncing around as a defensive assistant for seven NFL teams.
Williams moved into the front office, but Bowles stuck it out and at age 54 is going into his third season as Jets coach. He doesn’t feel like he’d be in that spot without Williams, and the Jets certainly wouldn’t have been practicing with the Redskins if not for their relationship.
“Just coming back seeing Doug is great because Doug was very close to me,” Bowles said. “I talk to Doug all the time, here and not here. He had a part in (arranging the workouts). He had a big part in it.”
Bowles credits Williams for putting him on this path, but his appreciation for the Redskins extends to two Hall of Famers: general manager Bobby Beathard and coach Joe Gibbs. They signed him as an undrafted free agent out of Temple in 1986 and gave him the starting free safety job in his second year.
“They signed me and they gave me a chance, so playing for the Redskins is something I’ll never forget,” Bowles said. “They gave me a chance to meet a lot of people. They gave me a chance at a career that I probably otherwise wouldn’t have had. So it’s always going to be a special place.”
Notes: Bowles was angry that receiver Terrelle Pryor revealed he broke his ankle in May. Bowles said Pryor should keep his mouth shut and told him as much. Pryor is not expected to play Thursday against his most recent team.