This week, Indian Land begins what you could call the “big boy” part of its 2018 football schedule.
The Warriors were a 1A classification school in 2010, but are now firmly in 3A, and very possibly could be 4A in the next realignment in 2020. Head coach Horatio Blades is trying to get his program used to playing schools like York, Rock Hill, South Pointe, Lancaster and Nation Ford, all schools that could soon be region opponents.
The most successful NFL alumni coaching in The Herald’s coverage area is helping the Warriors’ defensive line as it transitions to facing bigger teams and bigger blockers.
Ted Washington accrued many nicknames during his 17-year NFL career, just like he collected double teams from opposing offensive linemen. “Mount Washington” and “The Washington Monument” were just a few that tried to describe Washington’s immense physical stature.
The 6-foot-6, 365-pound nose guard had one of the longest defensive line careers in league history, and is a borderline Hall of Famer. He’s also the new defensive line coach at Indian Land High School.
Washington played in 236 games for seven teams, recording over 600 tackles and 34.5 sacks, and occupying countless double teams while the linebackers and safeties behind him racked up tackles. Now, Washington, a four-time Pro Bowler, spends his afternoons at Indian Land teaching his group the finer points of a position that entails much more than what it appears, pigs fighting in mud.
The Herald’s Bret McCormick caught up with Washington before the Warriors’ Aug. 28, 2018 practice.
To start, how did you get hooked up with Indian Land football?
I talked to one of my coaches that I knew from Marvin Ridge (N.C.) and he told me he was coaching over here. I said ‘do they need any help over there? Let the head coach know that I’m just sitting around at home, and if you need some help just give me a holler.’
You played all over the place in the NFL, how did you end up in the Charlotte area?
Well, we didn’t want to move down south, and we didn’t want to stay up north, and we didn’t want to go out west. The neutral place was here in Charlotte. Been here since ‘02.
Have you ever coached before? I guess you said Marvin Ridge...
Yeah, I’ve been coaching since I retired. I’ve been helping out, volunteering and coaching at several schools over in that area, Weddington, Monroe and Marvin Ridge.
What’s the hardest thing for you about coaching high school kids?
It’s not a hard thing, it’s more teaching. I like to teach fundamentals and that’s what’s missing now a days with these younger kids at this level, the fundamentals of the game. Properly using their hands, proper stances and learning the offensive schemes, and that’s what I’m giving back to them.
It’s crazy how long you played in the NFL. Do you have any one thing you attribute your longevity to?
People ask me that and I tell them it’s my trainers and the equipment managers. You take care of them and they’re gonna take care of you, making sure you’re not really beating up your body during the practices and then just be ready for game time. That simple.
What was your favorite stop in the NFL?
Buffalo and New England...
New England you won a Super Bowl...
And Buffalo spent the most of my years. Those were my two favorite spots.
Who was the toughest lineman you faced in the NFL?
Well, there was no lineman. It was linemen. Because if I got single-blocked, I’m gonna win 90 percent of the battles. But if I had to choose one, it would be (Pittsburgh Steeler) Dermontti Dawson. He’s a Hall of Famer and he was pretty crafty for a center.
You had a lot of nicknames during your career, did you have a favorite?
Nah, I didn’t go by any nicknames.
Names that people called you...
Well, they called me some of everything but I didn’t use any of them.
Did any of these Indian Land kids know about your career, your accomplishments?
That part I don’t know, and I don’t really tell them. But they always go and Google it and when they Google it they come back and tell me what they’ve seen and learned. But I don’t like to use my profession to throw in your face or brag about it, but I’ve got some tips for you that will help you that we did in the pros.
You seem to have a good sense of humor, where does that come from?
No, that’s just me being me, the class clown in high school and most athletic in high school and I carried that over to college and pros. I acted the same way in the pros and college and I bring it to these kids. It ain’t all about just getting yelled at. You do your yelling and at the same time you make it funny so that they can be comfortable and give you what you want in practice.
I also have noticed you always have some candy in your pocket. What’s your favorite kind?
I’ve got a big bag of the Brach’s that I keep in the house. It’s no specific one, it’s either some type of gum or I’m gonna have a piece of candy when I’m at practice.
I saw on your Wikipedia page that your daughter, Ashley, is a video game journalist...
Oh they’ve got that on there?
Yeah! I thought it was a cool, interesting-sounding job. What do you think about that?
I still don’t understand that, but she’s over in Germany doing that. She likes it, she can speak the language over there, write it, more power to her.
Did you play video games?
No, I wasn’t a big video game player.
If you were making a Ted Washington video game character, what would the greatest attribute be?
I don’t know (laughs). But these kids, they probably can come up with some type of character. But I don’t know.