In March of 2004, the Atlanta Falcons
signed defensive tackle Rod Coleman to a six-year deal worth $28
million. Coleman also got a $10 million signing bonus.
The former East Carolina standout, who
recently retired after 10 years in the NFL, wouldn't seem like a guy who
would be concerned about the fact that he hadn't gotten his college
"I enjoy working with kids," said
Coleman, who has a foundation that helps disadvantaged youth as well as
child care centers in Atlanta. "I basically want to help young people go
in the right direction. I always knew I wanted to be in that field."
Coleman was majoring in child
development and family relations at ECU. He finished playing for the
Pirates in 1998.
"I had the opportunity to leave and go
play in the NFL but I always promised myself that I was going to go back
and get my degree, when I'm done, when my career is finally over,"
Coleman said. "I stayed in contact with the administration.
"I honestly tried to do it a couple of
The time demands of earning the big
bucks in the NFL kept Coleman from keeping his promise to himself.
"It's really hard to do it while you're
playing," he said. "But I finally did it. I kind of did everything in
reverse. I had the Rod Coleman Foundation, working with underprivileged
kids. I was doing stuff in the boys and girls clubs, working with the
YMCA and police athletic leagues. You know, kids throughout.
"And I have the Angel Academy, day care
center, in Atlanta, going on a few years now. I had all this stuff
going. I kind of put the carriage before the horse but I knew I was
going to get it right. It was just a last few courses I had to finish up
and I got my degree."
Coleman is planning to help with the
football program at the new Rocky River High School, which is under
construction in the Charlotte area. He is currently residing in
"The way kids are going now, it's just
at an alarming rate," Coleman said. "From someone, a former athlete who
comes from the inner city of Philadelphia who has seen both sides of the
track, I think they'll respect me more and understand that I'm there to
help them because I was there and I made it out. I can shine a different
light on the kids and on the parents.
"The parents have a major role in the
upbringing of a child. They need to understand that they are the ideal
role models for their child — not somebody on TV or somebody in a
Coleman has completed requirements for
his degree. That's as big an accomplishment as any sack he ever made —
and he made plenty, both at ECU and in the NFL.
"I finished what I started," Coleman
Some 'Cole' facts
• Coleman wore No. 57 as a linebacker
at ECU. He added about 30 pounds during the course of his NFL career and
wore No. 75 as a defensive tackle for the Falcons.
• Coleman got to Cleveland Browns
quarterback Tim Couch on his first NFL sack.
• Coleman was born in Vicksburg, MS,
but went to Simon Gratz High School in Philadelphia, also the alma mater
of former North Carolina basketball standout and current Boston Celtic,
Rasheed Wallace. Coleman has donated equipment for the weight room at
• Coleman had 11 sacks for the Oakland
Raiders in 2002, 11.5 for Atlanta in 2004 and 10.5 for the Falcons in
• Coleman holds all of ECU's sack
records, including the most in a game (4 against Wake Forest in 1997),
most in a season (15 in 1997) and most in his career (39 from 1995 to
• Coleman's only touchdown in the NFL
came for the Falcons during the 2004 season on a 39-yard interception
return in a 35-10 win over his former team, the Raiders.
Huge series with Houston
East Carolina's hopes for a berth in
the Conference USA baseball tournament hinge on its home series with
Houston starting tonight. If the Pirates can take two of three from the
Cougars on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, then their tickets will be
punched for the C-USA Tournament at Houston, May 26-30.
Malcolm Gray of the ECU athletic media
relations department figures ECU will finish third in the regular season
league race if the Pirates win two of three from the Cougars and
Southern Miss wins its series with Memphis. If ECU takes the Houston
series and Memphis gets two of three from Southern Miss, then the
Pirates are looking at a fourth place finish in C-USA.
The top six of the nine
baseball-playing members of C-USA qualify for the conference tournament.
The Pirates have dropped out of the
national rankings and it's
looking like ECU would have to win the C-USA Tournament in order to make
the NCAA Tournament field.
Pirates coach Billy Godwin has said
that Zach Woods (8-3, 4.31 earned run average) will start tonight. Seth
Maness (9-3, 4.40) is slated to go for ECU on Friday night. Godwin has
not announced Saturday's starter. The situation being what it is, Godwin
realizes he may have to use Kevin Brandt in relief before the series
Gray said Houston is expected to go
with right-hander Michael Goodnight on Thursday, lefty William Kankel on
Friday and right-hander Eric Brooks on Saturday.
The Pirates are 18-16 against
right-handed starters this season and 12-7 against lefties. ECU is
hitting .326 against right-handers and .316 against left-handers.
welcomes another Sampson
Pirates basketball coach Jeff Lebo has
utilized connections in his first two signings.
Tony Smith, a hometown product
from Greenville Rose, was Lebo's first recruit. His second signee,
Robert Sampson from Bullis
School in Potomac, MD, warmed the heart of ECU athletic director Terry
Sampson's dad, Ralph, was a star for
Holland at Virginia and had a lengthy NBA career. Holland said he left
the younger Sampson's recruiting to Lebo.
"I was not involved with Robert's
recruitment except when he and his parents visited," Holland said.
"However, when Coach Lebo told me he was inviting Robert to visit, Ann
and I were excited.
"Ralph's decision to attend Virginia
was mainly driven by his comfort level with the school, coaches and
program. Those same things seemed to be important in Robert's decision
to attend ECU."