NFL player turns to substitute teaching

NFL player turns to substitute teaching

Published May. 28, 2011 11:16 a.m. ET

Antsy students at Miamisburg High with big plans for the summer and an eye towards the future have something in common with their new substitute teacher.

They’d really rather be doing something else.

But with the school year a week from ending, both are trying to make the best of the situation. And if that substitute, David Bruton, can make a positive impact in the process, he’ll consider his spring detour a success.

Bruton’s day job? Safety, Denver Broncos. But with NFL players locked out this spring, he headed back to his hometown to spend more time with his young son. He ended up spending lots of time around the high school school working out, and his old coach recommended a fix for what he diagnosed as boredom.

“I told David to apply for his substitute’s license and give it a shot,” Tim Lewis said. “It’s something I thought he could do when he wanted, wouldn’t interfere with his time with his son and something he could give up if the lockout ended or he didn’t like it.

“Actually, I think he’s enjoyed it. And we’re glad to have him.”

Lewis, who’s been the head football coach at Miamisburg since 1989, said Bruton has come back to town and volunteered his time to the football program in the summer since he graduated in 2005 and went to Notre Dame. He said he remembers Bruton as the kind of kid “who always had a crowd around him” and had “the perfect temperament” to be in the classroom.

But Lewis said he didn’t know Bruton had followed through with the process of earning his license until he got a call to stop by a second-grade classroom earlier this month.

“I got a kick out of it,” Lewis said. “Those little kids had awfully big eyes with him at the chalkboard.”

Bruton, who’s listed by the Broncos at 6’2, 225, has since done a handful of substitute gigs at the high school. And he’s enjoying being the Big Man on Campus.

“With the second graders, the discipline is more gentle,” Bruton said. “If they start to act up, I can bribe them a little bit to get them back. It’s different with the high school kids. I can’t be afraid to stand up tall and let them know I mean business.

“They still want to try a substitute, see how far they can push him. I’m not that far removed from high school. I remember those days.”

Lewis said he’s heard his players talking about their excitement in getting to spend some extra time with Bruton and he’s heard from other teachers who are glad to have him, too.

“One particular class he taught, we’ve had a problem with some kids kind of blowing it off,” Lewis said. “But last week when word got out that Mr. Bruton was the teacher for the day, we had perfect attendance.”

Bruton, who’s making 90 dollars a day as a substitute, has one more job lined up this week. Once school’s out for the summer, he’ll stick to his routine of starting each day with a long run with his dog and ending it by spending time with his son.

But the former political science major said his classroom experience has opened his eyes to a new possible future career  -- one that the 2009 fourth-round pick hopes can wait for a while.

“It’s definitely been a different experience, but it’s been a good one,” Bruton said. “I have a new respect for all teachers. I have a few friends who teach and I’m glad they suggested this to me.”

Bruton said he spent the first part of the offseason in Denver and got to meet new Broncos coach John Fox before the lockout took effect. He spoke with a couple new assistants on the phone, and he said he’s been working out “twice a day” and is ready to jump back in and learn a new defense as soon as he’s allowed.

If the NFL gets its labor issues resolved soon, he'll gladly get back to being No. 30

For now, he's enjoying being Mr. Bruton.