Buffalo Bills defensive backs coach Donnie Henderson has been coaching in the NFL for a long time - since 1999 to be exact. Over the course of that time he's seen rules change, players come and go, and some major differences between players then, and the players now.
When asked about the biggest differences between today's players and the players in his early NFL coaching days, Henderson told Buffalo Bills beat writer Sal Capaccio, "Today’s athlete, there’s two things I talk about with them. That music they listen to, and the money they make. It really forms who they are. They have a different work ethic."
"They love what they do, but they show it in a different way. Ya know, their passion today is not like some of the guys of old passion.”
Capaccio's piece on Henderson has a lot of good stuff for guys getting started in the coaching profession, including how relationships act as the cornerstone to your success and longevity. The first NFL staff that Henderson was ever a part in Baltimore included coaches like included Scott Shafer, Jack Del Rio, Mike Smith, Marvin Lewis, and his current boss with the Bills, Rex Ryan. The Ravens ended up winning the Super Bowl that year, which led to Henderson becoming the defensive coordinator for the Jets in 2004 under Herm Edwards, and there he met Doug Marrone (who coached the offensive line for the Jets), the man who he would go on to work for Syracuse, and then with the Bills.
When Marrone opted out of the final year of his contract in Buffalo, the Bills brought in Henderson's old friend Rex Ryan, and Ryan gave Henderson the option to stay on in his current position. As you can gather, relationships are important in the profession for a multitude of reasons.
One of the more interesting nuggets in the article is how Henderson knows his guys are ready to play. He assesses it with the acronym C.R.A.P. - or Comprehend, Retain, Apply, and Prepare. Henderson notes that if his defensive backs can "get all that done," he's feeling okay.
"I tell the guys, ‘I might not ever get you to the Pro Bowl. My job is to make sure you make a lot of money.'”
Read Capaccio's full piece on Henderson here.