EXCLUSIVE: Sean Embree - Coaching In The NFL, NCAA.. Europe? [Interview]

Sean Embree. With his experience, charisma, and professionalism he's a dream-come-true for every team in Europe. However, he's taken! After being on the coaching staff for the Denver Broncos and Colorado Buffaloes, Sean packed up his bags, and flew to Europe. Destination: Belgrade. Vukovi Belgrade. Along with the Superbowl winner Reuben Droughns [his former Broncos star RB], he lead the team to win both SAAF and CEFL. Coach Embree didn't stop there - Serbian National Team. Guess what? He won that as well! C-pool of EU Championship. 
Photo: Milos Rafailovic
Pro-athlete or a Coach?

Unfortunately for me is that I'm dealing with very bad ankles. I was at the NFL camp for couple weeks, and never passed my physical. I had a chance to go to Spain, and play for Barcelona. I took advantage of that for like 3 weeks, but, I realized it's not going to work and that it was time for me to go home. After Barcelona Dragons, I knew I will become a coach.


I got into coaching right away, and the first place I coached at was the Mollet High School. They are very known across the country and I learned a lot coaching high school kids. After that it was a University in Indianapolis. After Indianapolis, I was hired as a JV HC at another University, and as soon as I came back to Colorado, I got in touch with Mike Shanahan [current Washington Redskins HC], who was able to get me a job at Broncos. I was fortunate enough to be there for 3 seasons, and continued as the assistant coach of Colorado Buffaloes. From there I went to Vukovi Belgrade in Serbia.


Denver Broncos

Kyle Shanahan actually helped me - he said that if I wanted to get to the mini camp, he could talk to his dad Mike for me. After helping with the mini camp, Garry Kubiak invited me to stay for the season as a volunteer intern, I took it, and then Mike Shanahan kept me on board.


It was one of the greatest experiences of my life! Being with Mike Shanahan and Garry Kubiak I learned a lot. I met Reuben Droughns there, I coached him, he was an awesome player for us, and he was the guy that never said no. Reuben was the hardest working guy that was on that team at that time.


Superbowl?
I never got to be at the Superbowl! Broncos last year at the Superbowl was '99./2000. and I was not on that team unfortunately. Of course I wish I was there.

The only chance I had was the year we played the Pittsburgh Steelers at the AFC Championship, unfortunately we lost. Steelers went on to win the Superbowl beating the Seattle Seahawks. 


NFL vs. College Head Coach - PROS & CONS
Pros on both sides of being a HC on both levels is obviously getting the opportunity to see what you're made of, see what kind of a coach you really are, because a lot of that rides on the HC. Cons of each division is that in the NFL you may only get one year. In college they give you 3-4, even maybe 5 seasons, there's a little bit more stability. At the same time, if you can win one championship at the NFL level, you can find a way to get to the Superbowl, and you'll always have a job. You will always have a job at broadcasting, another team will always be after you and you can always go back down to college.

Photo: Milos Rafailovic
Media
When I was in between Barcelona and coming home, before I left the University, I was a sports reporter in Abilene, Texas. I actually worked with Mike Greenberg who is on the ESPN - Mike & Mike Show. He's probably one of the biggest names of the ESPN Sports. It's so hard to work up in that business - you either have to be an NFL HC or an NFL player for 15 years to get that job, or you really have to know somebody.

To work up from that level where I was with Mike Greenberg, was covering a lot of sports I may not like. I didn't want to spend the time and do that, because I knew I loved football but I didn't love girls field hockey or soccer. I just wanted to do football.


What Makes a Good Offense?
Like I tell to my players at Vukovi, the greatest lesson in life is experience. When you have an experienced QB, you will have a great opportunity there to have a great offense. When you have a QB that has knowledge of the game and experience, and if he can put those two things together and lead the huddle, lead the offense - your offense is going to be successful. There has to be a leader, with experience behind him, and he has to want to lead. He'll make other players better. That's where it all starts.

We had a very successful National Team, Serbian QB from Cacak brought to us experience. He was not an outstanding football player, but he's a good football player. He was a good leader for us. What you really need from your QB is experience and leadership. 

Some of the teams in the NFL who won the Superbowl, I can actually name 7, didn't have outstanding football players as their QBs, for example - Baltimore Ravens. If your QB knows how to lead a team - you can win a championship.

Photo: Milos Rafailovic
NFL QBs. The Worst Ones.
It's hard in the NFL, if you're an NFL QB - you're good. Some of the QBs that are, you might say, bellow the Hall of Fame level, list can go on and on then.

Tim Tebow. He is NOT a good Quarterback! He's a great leader, he will win games, and he has a great opportunity to win a lot of games wherever he is, because of his leadership, and not because of his QB ability. He has a will to win, he's not afraid, he's a good leader and that makes him a great QB - not his QB ability.

Matt Schaub. He's not a great Quarterback! He's a great leader, experienced, and has the will to win. That's why Texans are one of the better teams right now in the NFL.

Alex Smith. He's not a great Quarterback! But again, like I've said for Tebow and Schaub, Smith is also a leader, and has the will to win! 

Believe it or not, Mark Sanchez is not on this list. I believe that he's a very good QB. I think he just lacks the Tim Tebow leadership. If he had what Tebow had - his will, leadership and his heart - he would have anybody follow him, I think that the Jets would be a better team. The way he throws the ball, his release and his footwork is second to none.


Kickers
Kickers are treated like.. (laughs). If you're not a kicker who will be in the Pro-Bowl every year (which is only 2!), then you really don't get a whole lot of respect from the coaches, coaching staff, players. Those guys lead a hard life, they're expected to do a lot of things under pressure and it always has to be 100% with them. 

From my experience with the Broncos, as the special teams assistant, our kicker was very good, he got all the respect in the world and will probably be in the Hall of Fame. But, our punter. No one liked him. 

Kicker in Novi Sad, great kicker! We opened up the National Championship with an onside kick, he went out there, and he gave us, probably the best onside kick I've ever seen in my life.


Europe
Reuben Droughns actually came up to me and described it to me. I knew the history of Serbia, and I wasn't worried about being safe. My main issue was being in another country and not knowing the language. Football is such a specific thing. However, Reuben said everyone speaks English and that it will be a great experience. I also consulted with my agent and Mike Shanahan, and they were really supportive about the  decision I was about to make. 

It pushed me forward, and I was really excited to see Serbia, also knowing that Italy is close, Croatian seaside and so on. 

Safety wise, I'd be more safe in Serbia than in Colorado, especially with all the things going on in Colorado - random shootings, kidnaps. I hate the crimes going on downtown Denver, New York.. Serbia is probably the safest place you could be at compared to any place in The States.


Mentality
Since my EU coaching experience only goes as far as coaching the Serbian guys, so I would say that their mentality,.. A lot of the great players feel that they don't have to work harder to get to that next step, which is a really big difference between American players and Serbian. If Serbian guys feel like that they're good and better than someone else - they won't work hard. That's that one thing that's holding these guys back.

I think coming to The States and getting a football scholarship, improving their lifestyle and getting free education - might even give them an opportunity to play in the NFL. 

Somewhere down the line it has to change, the mentality of "I don't have to work hard, I'm good where I'm at." - You always got to believe that there is someone out there working harder than you, and don't let them outwork you. 

Serbia has great athletes who can run, catch, they could have an opportunity in The States and a lot more than some of the other kids around EU have. The only way to get through that could be to either come to USA and actually see how kids are, how they practice and how they play. Or, having a good coach in EU. 

There is a saying: "Coach take me where I can't take myself.", and someone needs to be there, teach them push them and constantly be on them to know that their best is still not enough. If you do that, especially in the QB situation, you may have a great opportunity in The States. 


One Thing Players Just Don't Do
The one thing Serbian players don't do, well, a lot of them don't do, is NOT FINISHING THE PLAY. 

They will find a way to walk on the field while the play is still going on, they won't run on and off the field in between plays.  Long run for a touchdown - the entire offense doesn't go to the Endzone and celebrate and say how great it is to score a TD, there is always 4-5 straggling behind like big deal. 

In America, just like soccer is to Serbia, football to America, if there's a TD, not only is everyone on the field celebrating, but the sidelines, the fans are jumping up and down. It's a big deal, and I wish Serbian athletes would do the same.

"Character defines the heart of a man. Watch your thoughts, they become words. Watch your words, they become actions. Watch your actions, they become habits. Watch your habits, they become your character. And, watch your character, because character becomes your destiny." - I said that to the National Team, and, I told them to remember those words whenever they're thinking to maybe be lazy and don't go to that workout, doing the wrong thing at home, doing the wrong thing with their girlfriend, best friend.  
Stay in the path, because in the end, all you have left is your character. Your character will take you a lot further in life.

Interwied by:
Mia Bajin
TAG