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Devin Bush Sr. Rekindled His Love of Football By Coaching His Son

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.

Devin Bush Sr. spent two years away from football. To him, it felt like forever.

“It was a long two years,’’ Bush said. “I thought it was 40.’’

Bush, an eight-year NFL safety and a Super Bowl winner with the St. Louis Rams, retired after the 2002 season. In 2004, he started coaching his son, Devin Jr., in youth football.

"Devin was six years old and playing flag," the elder Bush recalled. "My best friend was coaching and asked if I could help him. I told him that I just wanted to watch Devin play.

"The next year, my friend asked me again, and he was short-handed, so I helped. And it was like I woke up. Being around those kids and the game was great."

Bush said coaching his son in youth football reminded him of his start in the game as a kid in Miami. 

"My first time playing putting on that uniform, you got your own jersey with a number assigned to you, you’re putting on your cleats it was special," he said. "I just loved playing football.

"That first year I played organized football, we won every game and the Little League Super Bowl. Now, I’m addicted to winning. That competitive nature never went away. Winning together as a team, sharing those wins with your teammates, traveling to other places and getting ready to play that’s a tremendous feeling, and it was so much fun."

Bush went on to play his high school ball at Hialeah High. He was recruited to play at Florida State, where he won three ACC titles with the Seminoles before becoming the Atlanta Falcons' first-round pick in 1995.

Bush spent his first four years in the league with the Falcons, played two years with the Rams, and ended his career in Cleveland in 2002.

“When I got done playing, I didn’t want to coach,’’ he said. “I wanted to get away from it.’’

But Bush's love of the game came back when he was coaching Devin Jr. "Then I couldn’t get away from it."

Bush went from coaching youth football to coaching high school at Charles Flanagan High School, north of Miami, where his son starred as a four-star recruit. When Devin Jr. committed to Michigan, Devin Sr. joined the Wolverines' coaching staff as a defensive analyst. 

In 2018, Devin Bush Jr. won the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year award and was an All-American. He followed in his father's footsteps to the NFL, becoming the Pittsburgh Steelers' first round pick in 2019. 

Now, the elder Bush is at Ole Miss, where he the recruiting coordinator and also helps out with the defense.

His message to players is based off what he learned as he progressed through the ranks.

"All those experiences I had built my character, how I carried myself, how I viewed myself, how I worked," Bush said. “When you get older and become an adult, you’re going to be working on some kind of team, even if it’s not sports. So you have to adapt and work together for the same common goal. Work on it now so you get good at it and you won’t have any doubts.

“I love football. It did a lot for me. I fell in love with it the first time I played. Now being back with a team and competing and coaching it brings it all back to me.’’

Photo: AP/Al Messerschmidt


  • Youth Football
  • NFL Players and Legends
  • Coaching