Anthony Becht's Coaches Helped Him Reach the NFL and Find His Calling
Welcome to Why We Play, a series of discussions with current players and NFL Legends about their youth football experience and why they play the game.
Two coaches had the biggest influence on Anthony Becht's life. The first coach helped him reach the NFL, and the second helped him find his calling after his NFL career concluded.
Becht, a native of Drexel Hill outside of Philadelphia, met the first coach, Bob Burns, playing in his local CYO league in fifth grade.
"Playing youth football, I had some really good coaches," Becht said. "Coaches like Bob weren’t just kids' fathers. They were good ball coaches who wanted to teach us the game. You had coaches who had coached for 10-15 years, so it felt like being in a high school program from a young age. It was fun and I felt I learned a lot."
Becht was a star tailback in the CYO league. But when he got to Monsignor Bonner High School in Philadelphia, the competition level was much more intense and he had to work to stay on the field.
"I just assumed I was going to be the main guy, but I ended up being fourth on the depth chart," Becht said. "I didn’t play a single game as a freshman. They moved me to receiver, but I couldn’t catch. I remember having conversations with my parents. I wasn’t playing much. Maybe I should switch to basketball or baseball. But I decided to stick it out."
Burns, a receivers coach at the school, helped Becht adjust to the new level of play. "We worked on catching all the time, and he really helped me," Becht said.
"My sophomore year, I played some JV in mop-up work. But my story really starts my junior year. I sprung up five or six inches and they moved me to tight end. There was a senior tight end and in the first scrimmage he got hurt. I got my chance and I took it and ran with it, and the rest is history."
Becht seized his opportunity and starred at tight end over his final two years at Bonner. He earned a scholarship to West Virginia University, where he earned honorable mention All-American recognition as a senior in 1999. In the 2000 NFL Draft, the New York Jets selected Becht with the 27th overall pick.
Becht played 12 years in the NFL with the Jets, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, St. Louis Rams, Arizona Cardinals, and Kansas City Chiefs.
After he retired from the NFL in 2011, Becht took a year off and then began working for NBC Sports and ESPN.
He also started coaching his son Rocco at Wiregrass Ranch High School in Wesley Chapel, Fla. He also coached in some college All-Stars game and then in the AAF.
That's where he met former Rams' offensive coordinator and head coach Mike Martz, the second coach who he cites as a major influence in his life.
"Martz kept in my ear to get out of the media and get into coaching full-time," Becht said. "So I started my mission to become a head coach."
Becht will get his chance in the spring of 2023 as one of the head coaches for the new XFL season.
"It was a long process, but I had a plan," Becht said. "I played for five teams and had seven head coaches. I’ve seen a lot, consumed a lot, and remembered a lot.
"I’m super excited. It's a huge opportunity. I think I sold a vision that was important. Now I can’t wait to get started and develop a team."
Photo: AP/Kevork Djansezian
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