NFL Legend Aaron Wallace Returns to Coach His High School Alma Mater
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.
For Dallas native Aaron Wallace, football was a way of life as a kid.
"It’s just like Friday Night Lights," he said. "Football is way of life in Texas. All the kids love football. When I was growing up that was pretty much all we did. We played from the morning to night, until the lights came on. We just played because we loved it."
Wallace was a huge Dallas Cowboys fan and emulated his idols on the field.
"Harvey Martin and Ed 'Too Tall' Jones were my favorites," Wallace said. "I used to love to watch them rush the passer. That’s how I got into pass rushing, from watching them play."
Wallace began playing Pop Warner when he was in the sixth grade. He then took his skills to Franklin Delano Roosevelt High. He his opportunity to show his coaches what he could do when the linebacker in front of him on the depth chart suffered an injury.
"It was a big thing to stand out in high school," Wallace said. "And my high school had sent some players to the NFL. We had a lot of blue-chippers. It was a pride thing to play for Roosevelt. So when I got my chance, I never looked back.
"I didn’t know a lot about college. My college decision was made primarily by my dad. He wanted me to go to Texas A&M. He said I should get out of Dallas and get out of trouble. He urged me to go there, and it was the most positive thing I’ve ever done."
At Texas A&M, Wallace's 42 career sacks is still a school record.
Wallace was selected in the second round of the 1990 NFL draft by the Los Angeles Raiders. He played in L.A. and Oakland for nine seasons, appearing in 102 games and accumulating 168 tackles.
After he retired from the NFL in 1998, Wallace didn't take long to get into coaching.
“When I retired I didn’t know what I wanted to do," he said. "I went back to college and finished my degree at 32. I wanted to coach college.
"But once I tried high school coaching, I fell into it and fell in love with it. I love helping young guys learn the game and help them get to college. It's what I’m all about."
Wallace coached at Sunset High, H. Grady Spruce High, and Emmett J. Conrad High in Texas. And in 2018, he returned to Roosevelt High, his alma mater, where he is currently the head football coach and athletic director.
"I got the chance to come back to my old school, and I could’t pass it up," he said.
Wallace said he has a unique perspective that can help his players succeed.
"I just tell them to stay positive," he said. "A lot is going to happen in their lives. There’s a lot of adversity out there. They need to learn to bounce back.
"Hopefully they can see me and see that if you want to achieve something, it is possible. Because I waked these same halls, these same streets that they do."
Photo: AP/Kevin Terrell
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