NFL Legend Matthew Tucker: "As Coaches, We Need to Get the Most Out of Our Players"
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.
Matthew Tucker didn’t put on a real football uniform until he was in seventh grade.
"Before that, I played what we called 'throw it up' ball," Tucker said.
But like many young men growing up in Texas, it was only a matter of time before Tucker started playing football.
"Texas is just a football state," he said. "There’s a lot of land with a lot of country boys, deep country where there’s nothing else to do but play football. I mean football is big all around the country, but like everything, it’s real big in Texas."
Tucker went on to star at perennial power Chapel Hill High, a two-time state champion and an annual state playoff team, in Tyler, Texas.
"We had big crowds,’’ Tucker said. "We went to the playoffs every year. Our games were packed most of the time because we were usually ranked."
Despite a late start playing organized football, Tucker was a star in high school. He was selected to the first-team all-state and named the Class 3A Offensive Player of the Year.
He parlayed that success into a scholarship at Texas Christian University. At TCU, he ran for 2,602 yards, averaged 5.3 yards per carry and scored 33 touchdowns.
In 2013, Tucker signed with the Philadelphia Eagles as an undrafted free agent. He played for the Eagles from 2013-14 and with the New York Jets practice squad in 2016.
After his NFL career ended, Tucker was drawn back to Texas and high school football. Currently, he's coaching at Covenant High School in Dallas.
This is his first year with the school, but he's hoping that it's the start of a long coaching career.
"When it comes to football, I always believe that you got it or you don't," Tucker said. "And even if you got it, you still have to work for it. It’s not going to be handed to you."
Tucker also started a training business and has worked with young players at events hosted by the Dallas Cowboys.
"I love working with the kids," he said. "My message is to be teachable, to learn how to learn. Football is all about life. It's just like the real world. You have to make the right choices. If you play football, you’ll get the proper traits of being disciplined, accountable, stuff like that.
"Our kids are smart. As coaches, we just need to get the most out of our players. We have to teach them to go hard every play, to give 100 percent."
Photo: AP/Matt Rourke
- NFL Players and Legends