Learning along the way

For low-level NFL assistants, the wealth (of knowledge) they acquire on the way up is worth the high-level strain.

Updated: October 8, 2003, 12:29 PM ET
By Jeff Reynolds | Pro Football Weekly
It's Tuesday, Sept. 30, 4:15 a.m. Raheem Morris called it a Monday only four hours ago. With only slight resistence, his Tuesday has begun.

Morris, a defensive assistant for the Super Bowl-champion Buccaneers, is veering into the lot at Tampa Bay's One Buccaneer Place team facility after 16 hours at the office Monday. It's the end of a short drive from home, the start of a long haul that would force the majority of us to resign.

The players are off -- scheduled as such, at least -- and the complex quiet, but Morris will be one of the first faces head coach Jon Gruden sees at shortly after 4 a.m. this morning. . . and normally the last anyone will see when the clock chimes in Wednesday, when Morris, sometime after 12:30 a.m., calls it a day some 20 hours later.

"Tuesday and Wednesday, they are kind of the same thing," Morris said. Morris and fellow quality-control coaches or lower-level assistant coaches have normally surpassed a 40-hour workweek by Tuesday evening.

As you may imagine, the wages for the position are not great. Most quality-control coaches can figure to make the equivalent of $7 an hour or less per year. A greater payoff comes from your mentors -- like Gruden and defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin for Morris -- who are sharing their wealth (of knowledge) and are always good for a few punchlines come midnight.