Former New England Patriots star tight end Ben Coates is spending the 2004 NFL Europe season as an assistant coach with the Frankfurt Galaxy. The potential Hall of Famer is enrolled in the NFL Europe League's intern coaching program, which allows former players to get their first taste of the coaching side of the game.
Coates' Galaxy team qualified for World Bowl XII last weekend, and has been one of the two most successful teams through the 2004 NFL Europe season. The Galaxy tight ends have helped pave the way for Skip Hicks to be the league's leading touchdown scorer, and have helped the Galaxy become the league's top ranked offense.
Coates has taken time from his coaching schedule to answer questions sent in by fans covering a range of topics, from his first thoughts on coaching, his impressions of NFL Europe, and whether he still has the urge to play the game.
I was wondering what you think makes a team successful in NFL Europe?- Mike Van Viel, Veenendaal, Netherlands
"By playing together as a team with everyone working as a team to accomplish the same goal."
Do you think that Chad Hayes has NFL ability, and has it been a challenge dealing with the injuries at the tight end position?- Terence Woodward Jnr, Asheville, NC
"I do see an (NFL) future for him. I still think that he needs to gain some weight, like 10 or 15 pounds, and add some muscle. If he can get to a training camp, be on a practice squad and stay there for a whole off-season, I think he will have a chance to play a couple of years in the league."
Do you find that the thrill of coaching is more rewarding than playing? Dose the benefit you get from instructing and taking pride in your players outweigh the loss you fell about not joining them on the field?- Tavis Sisson, Orlando, Fl
"Yeah, I do. Coaching gives you the opportunity to see your guys as you teach them and they're doing what you're telling them to do. It's fun to see the players do some things and accomplish what you did when you played. Also, you're giving them a chance to accomplish some of the things that they want to accomplish.
"As far as the other question, I don't feel any loss about not playing. That's one thing. My only objective is to help the guys as much as I can and see them play on Sunday (one day)."
Why did the Galaxy stick with the run on the last three plays of the game against Berlin last weekend? Do you think that a short pass could have got the first down?- Charles Eplin, FULDA Hessian, Germany
"We felt as though we had two opportunities to get a first down. On third and one or six inches, we as a coaching staff didn't get it done. Nobody in the league should stop you on two opportunities with one yard to go. That's impossible. You have to give Berlin credit because they came in here and played hard. It was a tough heavyweight fight."
With all the injuries at tight end on the Galaxy did you ever consider pulling on the pads for one last game?- Heinz Nieuws, Hamburg, Germany
(laughs) "Yeah, I was thinking about putting them on this week."
What single aspect has surprised you most about becoming a professional coach?- Lenny Delroi, Chatham, UK
"Going into detail with everything and learning about every aspect of the game. Most people just want to do their job. I like to know what's going on in every phase of the game, whether it's receivers, backs, quarterbacks or tight ends."
Is there any rivalry in NFL Europe that compares to the one that you experienced in the NFL between New England and Miami?- Trey McCrain, Charlotte, NC
"I think there is a rivalry between Rhein and the Galaxy. The teams were the first German teams to be in the league at the same time - although they have now been joined by Berlin and Cologne - but the years that they were in the league together made it a natural rivalry as they would play for German bragging rights. The crowd is very loud in those games, and we have to take them on again this weekend, so our team should be very prepared for that kind of game again."