ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Following a seven-year NFL playing career, Assistant Secondary Coach Sam Garnes swapped his helmet for a headset and embarked on a coaching career.
Starting with the high school ranks, Garnes worked his way up to the NFL after stops in Europe with the Cologne Centurions and the UFL with the Las Vegas Locomotives.
He joined the Panthers as a special teams assistant in 2010 and then made the move to Denver along with Head Coach John Fox prior to the 2011 season.
Garnes talked to DenverBroncos.com about transitioning from a player to a coach, his coaching experience at different levels of play and his coaching style.
What made you want to go into coaching after your playing career?
“When I played I always felt like I was a leader. It was easy for me to separate myself from other players. That’s what you need to be able to do as a coach is separate yourself and be able to be a leader and not worry what people think about you but just focus on the task at hand. So when I played, I always felt like the next step for me was to go into coaching. Stay in football, something I loved. I felt like I could do a lot of things in this world but football is what I love.”
Do you emulate your coaching style after your former coaches?
“Well, I’m not one of those people even to this day who tries to pick a coach and try to be like them. So when I play I just had several things that occurred that stick out in my mind. Coaches have that effect on players. When you have something good, you remember it and something bad, you remember it. I use both to my advantage. I try not to do things I didn’t like as a player and I do all the different things I’ve witnessed playing with certain coaches, like Coach Fox, I’ve played for him. Also, coaches around the league that you see some things they might say that sticks out and I try to use those things when it comes up.”
How does your playing career help you as a coach?
“I think they respect coaches who can help them that played in the league. Initially when you walk in the door, it’s like a parent. You have their respect but you have to earn it and keep it. Playing definitely lets them know I’ve been through what they’ve been through. But I’ve also got to be able to help them improve their game and point certain things out that could definitely affect them in a positive way. And treat them as men. That’s one thing I learned from playing underneath Coach Fox. They definitely respect them and it definitely helps me in that case.”
What was your experience like at all the different levels you coached prior to the NFL?
“I feel like I’m an NFL guy. Once you play at the top and coach at the top, that’s where you want to be. When I win a championship, I want to win a championship at the highest point. I don’t want to just be a champion in college and look up and see the Denver Broncos win a championship. I want to be here and win a championship, in the NFL which is the highest level.”
How would you describe your coaching style?
“I’m a hands-on coach. I’d like to think that I can get in there and show them the moves that I want them to do, but the players tell me I can’t. I like to get in there and talk to the players and have a personal relationship with them because I feel like if they trust you, as a man, they definitely trust you with their careers. So I like to build a relationship with them and I don’t try to forge any relationships. If we get along, cool, if not, I’m still going to coach you up and have you ready to play because that’s the number one thing I need to do at the end of the day."