NFL Legend Dominique Curry: "You Have to be Able to Separate Yourself"
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.
When Dominique Curry started playing Pop Warner football at age 11, he wasn't very good.
"I could catch the ball all right, but when it came to ball security, I was always fumbling," Curry said. "I just wasn’t very good."
The North Philadelphia native said he tried offensive and defensive line so he wouldn't have to worry about hanging on to the ball.
"I couldn’t really tackle well, either," he said. "But I had heart. I wasn’t scared of anybody and that’s what kept me playing."
After his first season, he got better by working with his dad and developing his hand-eye coordination by playing basketball. And, most importantly, he said, "I had confidence. I always had that and I just got better. I ended up being the quarterback and middle linebacker for our team that year."
Curry went to George Washington High School of the Philadelphia Public League, where he played tight end and outside linebacker.
In college, he switched positions again. He became a wide receiver at Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, a historically black university, and amassed 2,002 yards and 14 touchdowns in three seasons. He also played basketball for four years at Cheyney, where he scored 1,079 career points and grabbed 606 career rebounds.
As a senior, Curry transfered to California University of Pennsylvania where he played special teams.
Special teams became his ticket to the NFL. In 2010, he signed as an undrafted rookie free agent with the St. Louis Rams. He made the 53-man roster in 2010, playing in two games and blocking a punt before suffering a season-ending ACL tear. In 2011, he was active for all 16 games for St. Louis.
After earning offseason and practice squad roster spots with the Detroit Lions and Carolina Panthers the following two years, and playing in the Arena Football League, Curry retired from playing football. Now, he's a high school coach trying to help young men get better the way he did.
He began coaching back in the Philadelphia Public League at Simon Gratz in 2016 and has spent the past two years at national powerhouse St. Joe's Prep, also in Philadelphia.
"I always wanted to be a coach, but initially, I wanted to wait until my sons (Syair, Dom Jr. and Jaden) were finished playing," Curray said. "But then, I was at the field training one of my mentees. The head coach of Gratz was there and asked me if I could help him with his wide receivers.
"That went from a one-day thing to me being there five times a week and becoming an assistant coach."
Now, Curry will get to coach his oldest son, 14-year-old Syair, as he enters high school at St. Joe's. "That will be special," he said.
Curry shared the advice he shares with all of his players.
"I try to tell them to be different," he said. "When you get to that next level, everybody is good. Especially now when kids start training at such a young age, everyone is quick, everyone is strong. So what separates you?
"Are you a better blocker? Are you a special teams player? When you get to the next level, no matter what level, you have to be able to separate yourself."
"The difference now with social media, and all of that, kids come in at young ages and are ranked. ‘I’m the top 10-year-old in the country.’ I just try to keep them humble. The world is bigger than just Philadelphia. There are a thousand of you, so you just have to keep getting better."
Photo: AP/G. Newman Lowrance
- NFL Players and Legends
- Youth Football
- High School Football