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Terrell Buckley's Legendary Coaches Helped Pave the Way for His Football Career

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.

Terrell Buckley has been coached by some of the legends of the game Bobby Bowden at Florida State, Mike Holmgren with the Green Bay Packers, Don Shula and Jimmy Johnson with the Miami Dolphins, Mike Shanahan with the Denver Broncos, and Bill Belichick with the New England Patriots.

"I’ve been around nothing but great coaches in my life," Buckley said. "It goes all the way back to high school where my high school coach, Bill Matthews at Pascagoula (Miss.) High School, is a Hall of Famer.

"I learned from all of those coaches. I had four, or five, notebooks thick of notes from coaches. Good, bad, indifferent. It was, 'If I was the head coach, what would I do?'"

Buckley grew up around football. Both his father and his uncle played college football, and Buckley put the pads on for the first time when he just five years old.

"There was no doubt I was going to play," he said. 

Buckley won a state title at Pascagoula High and then went to Florida State University. He was the fifth overall pick in the 1992 NFL draft by the Green Bay Packers.

He played 14 seasons in the NFL, recording 50 interceptions and returning six of them returned for touchdowns. He was also a part of New England’s first Super Bowl title in the 2001 season.

Buckley attributed his pro success to advice from his parents.

"My parents taught me at an early age to always be in the moment," Buckley said. "Do what you can to not be a liability. Always be accountable. As a player, I was always 10-15 minutes early for everything and I stayed late. It just became a way of life."

After his career ended in 2005, Buckley decided to spend more time with family and finish his degree at FSU. In Tallahassee, he found his next passion — coaching.

“Coach Bowden, Coach Andrews, and Jimbo Fisher got to me and it’s been all coaching since then," he said. "I care about people. When I got back to Florida State, I saw some things I could help. I wanted to be a coach that the players and their parents could lean on for guidance and information."

Since 2007, Buckley has served as an assistant at the college level at Florida State, Akron, Louisville, Mississippi State and Ole Miss.

"It’s awesome to be able to have an impact, to tell your stories, to guide young men, to help parents, to help families," he said. "I thrive on it. It’s unbelievable to see a 17-year-old grow into a young man, and to know that I helped that. It’s really satisfying."

Next spring, Buckley will get his first chance as a head coach. He was named one of the XFL's eight head coaches for the league's 2023 season.

"I’ve been prepared for the past three to four years to be a head coach," Buckley said. "I had a few interviews. When this opportunity came, it was perfect."

It's safe to say that Buckley is looking forward to the start of the XFL season.

"I'm ready. I could be out there now. But the time between now and the start of the league in 2023 gives us an opportunity as a team, as a staff to get that one heartbeat.

"Opening day was always a celebration for me. Being on the field singing the national anthem as a new season began, and the Super Bowl, with the confetti falling down — those were my highlights. Now becoming a head coach is right there with both of those."

Photo: AP/Allen Kee


  • NFL Players and Legends
  • Coaching