"Every Step Along the Way, There Was Somebody": Scott Brunner Pays it Forward as a Coach
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.
As a kid, Scott Brunner got into some serious pick-up football games.
"I remember showing up at the park with makeshift shoulder pads and helmets," Brunner said with a laugh. "It was like a real deal. We would show up in these rag-tag uniforms and choose up sides. We played all day until our parents came and got us."
Brunner's love for football was born in those pickup games, and continued in his first organized football experience in the Middletown, N.Y. Pop Warner leagues.
"It was different. It was certainly a lesson in everyone having a role and a responsibility. That’s the change from playing in the backyard, playing 3 on 3 or whatever you had out there, and just making up rules.
"All of that was fun, but playing organized football, all of a sudden it’s 11 guys on the field on both sides of the ball and you start to realize it’s a coordinated effort. Everybody has their own goal and their own job to do. That’s what opens your eyes a little bit."
Brunner had an advantage learning the game — his father, John, was a high school football coach. "I was always at practice with him," Brunner said.
John Brunner would go on to coach college football at Villanova, Temple, and Princeton before embarking on a long NFL career as an assistant coach and a scout. Meanwhile, his son starred at quarterback at Henderson High in West Chester, Pennsylvania and Lawrence High School in New Jersey, earning a scholarship to the University of Delaware. Brunner guided the Blue Hens to a 13-1 record and a Division II national championship in 1979.
The New York Giants selected Brunner in the 1980 NFL Draft. During the 1981 season, Brunner filled in for injured starter Phil Simms, leading the Giants to a playoff win against the rival Philadelphia Eagles in the 1981 NFC wild-card game.
Brunner played six NFL seasons, starting 30 games for the Giants and also spending time as a backup for the Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers, and St. Louis Cardinals.
After leaving the NFL in 1986, Brunner worked on Wall Street. But he also stayed around the game, doing some broadcasting and helping young quarterbacks at the TEST Football Academy in New Jersey.
"I coached my son Adam’s team when he played youth (football),’’ Brunner said. “And then I stayed involved with training.
"The training I do now, and have for the past 10 to 12 years, started with helping college quarterbacks get ready for the Combine. Now we sprinkle in some high school players to help get them ready for college football."
When Brunner works with young quarterbacks, he is reminded of the coaches along the way that helped him.
"Every step along the way, there was somebody," he said. "When I was real young, it was my dad and his staff. And then in junior high and high school, there were always coaches who helped me, who taught me, showed me the right way to do things."
Photo: AP/Charles Kelly
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