A CONVERSATION WITH DAVID WALKER - PART TWO

David Walker is in his second season as running backs coach with the Colts. Walker started his coaching career at Carol City (Miami, Fla.) High School in 1994. He then coached running backs at Syracuse, his alma mater, from 1995-2004. Walker served in the same role with the University of Pittsburgh from 2005-10. This is the second of a two-part visit with Walker.

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What is the geographic area where you have lived or worked that you like the most?

"I've lived for the most part on the East Coast, but one of the best places I've liked is the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale area.  I was there for a couple of years.  Besides the weather, it is a great place.  If my wife and I closed our eyes and said that we were going to have a vacation spot or retire somewhere, it always comes back that we will get back down to South Florida."

Who is the person most responsible for you to make it to professional football and/or the NFL?

"There are lots of former teammates and coaches.  I could not pick one person.  You learn a lot along the way from different people.  I can't single out one person because of the many influences I have had.  As I get older, there are a lot of guys working in this league or have worked in the league who I would ask questions to about getting more familiar with the business.  I have been shaped by a number of people, and I am grateful for what I have learned."

What is your greatest football moment prior to the NFL?

"Probably the most special day that comes to mind is because of the atmosphere, the game that was played and the players who were involved.  It came at Syracuse in 1998.  It was Donovan McNabb's senior year and his last home game.  The game was against Miami, and the winner took the Big East championship.  Donovan scored three rushing touchdowns and passed for two more, and we won, 66-13.  That day is probably the most exciting, most memorable football afternoon because I think it was the third conference championship in a row for those kids.  Donovan was such an outstanding player, and the way he capped his career on that afternoon was truly special.  I don't think I've seen the Carrier Dome that alive and electric and then to have the best player on the team respond the way he did, it still is one of my greatest moments."  

What is your greatest NFL football moment?

"This is only my second season in the NFL.  I think my finest moment still is in the future.  It is yet to come.  I feel very fortunate to be in the league and with a great organization like the Colts.  I look forward to helping achieve success any way I can."

What is it about football that drives you the most?

"I just like the competition and the X-and-O part of it.  There are so many components to the game.  Schematically, trying to defeat your opponent is something I like.  I enjoy the schemes, breaking down the film to see what an opponent does on defense and how we can attack it, how we can plan things to our advantage.  That part of it is challenging and stimulating, and it changes from week-to-week because of who you play.  I like the challenge of getting young men to do things the way you want them done on the field, how you want players to respond to the stimuli they encounter on the field, 'This is the run play we have called, this is the look you will see and this is where you have to put the ball,' then watching them execute what we have practiced.  That is something I really enjoy.  I like trying to help guys become better players.  I enjoy trying to come up with ways to defeat an opponent.  The daily challenge of getting better at your craft so you can help others get better is something that I really like about football.  That's the best part about my job.  That's always been the challenge of coaching for me, no matter what level I have been doing it.  You always want to be making yourself better."

Are you driven more by the relationships in the business or the accomplishments, or do they go hand-in-hand?

"I am motivated by the relationships, but I appreciate the accomplishments that can come with the game.  You have to earn those accomplishments.  I enjoy the working relationships because you are helping players while you are learning things from them.  We want to win and help guys have success.  Success comes in a lot of different forms in this business.  We are driven to be successful as often as we can be."     

Do you have any rituals or superstitions?

"I have nothing quirky or out of the ordinary that I can think of.  Maybe I do, but it's not conscious.  I think you just go about your business and prepare.  You try to leave nothing to chance.  That's just me.  Other guys may have them, and that's fine."

If you weren't coaching, what would you do?

"That's a good question because I tell my wife all the time, 'One day, I am going to have to get a real job.'  This is too much fun.  If I am fortunate and keep working hard, maybe that day will never come."

Who is the most memorable player you have coached?

"I will give you three guys for different reasons.  Donovan McNabb and LeSean McCoy, from my days in college were memorable.  They both have electric personalities.  They are guys that when they walk into the room you know they are there.  They don't have to say a word.  Both of those guys got their teammates to play better.  They both were leaders of men in their own way, and they were able to enter programs and take them a notch higher.  What Donovan did for us at Syracuse and what LeSean meant for us at Pittsburgh in their successes and how they went about their business, those two guys were special, special people.  Their work and play on a daily basis was outstanding.  As coaches, you see practice every day and sometimes you saw them do things that you just didn't believe.  The public only saw those types of things on Saturdays.  Shady (McCoy) would break off a run in practice and you were stunned.  You knew better recruiting beats better coaching.  Donovan would do those things, too.  The third guy was on this level, and it was Joseph Addai.  Last year, was my first year and I couldn't meet guys because of the lockout.  We got to training camp time and I was coaching them in person for the first time.  With Joe as the veteran in that room, and he was coached by (former Colts Running Backs Coach) Gene Huey for years, he was flexible enough to allow for change and not be stubborn.  You never heard him say, 'This is how we've done it for years.  This is how we do it here.  This is how we're going to do it.'  For him to say, 'This is your room.  Do your thing, and I'm going to make sure everyone supports you and we're going to go with it.'  I appreciated Joe Addai a great deal.  He handled the shift in coaching and taught me a lot about the NFL in a short period of time.  I have a lot of respect for Joe.  He is a true pro."

Your career likely has kept you from traditional holiday celebrations.  Do you have one that stands out in particular?

"You get used to it.  It's not easy, but it's been a part of your life since college.  When you went to college, there were certain things you started to miss.  After 20 or so years, you've missed certain things.  It becomes how it is.  If that were to change, it would mean something happened to your profession.  On Christmas in college, you could be at home or at a bowl game.  As the kids have grown up, Christmas is on December 25, but we may not be home.  You just roll with it.  You make things work every way you can."

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