With his 'Chucky' alter-ego, Head Coach Jon Gruden may have arrived in Tampa with a reputation for spreading fire and brimstone. Observers might be surprised, then, how easily Gruden tosses around the L-word with his team. He's never been shy to dish out an "I love you, man," to one of his players.
Shorecrest Preparatory Head Coach Phil Hayford has always approached his team the same way. Every Friday night, Hayford ends his pregame speeches with these words: "No matter what happens out here tonight, I love you. I love you."
On Wednesday, September 17, these two emotional coaches met at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' training complex, as Hayford was recognized by the NFL and the Buccaneers for his efforts on and off the football field. The Shorecrest Prep leader has been selected as the first Buccaneers "High School Coach of the Week" in 2003.
During a ceremony on the practice field at One Buccaneer Place, Hayford was presented with a framed "Coach of the Week" certificate, signed by NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, General Manager Rich McKay and Coach Gruden. He also received a football autographed by Gruden.
Hayford has been the head coach at Shorecrest for the past 24 seasons, posting an overall record of 150 wins and 88 loses and leading his team to the state playoffs eleven of the past twelve years. Shorecrest recorded undefeated seasons in 1993 and 1994. In addition to his duties as the head football coach, Hayford also serves as the athletic director for a school that has been awarded the Florida High School Athletic Association "Sportsmanship Award" three times (1992, 1997 and 2003) and the "Carey McDonald Award" for most successful athletic program in 1A twice (1997 and 1998).
"It's a real honor to be out here and to be selected to meet Coach Gruden, especially after this past year," said Hayford. "The thing is, there probably should be about 80 or 90 people standing behind me. The kids that have played for me over the past 24 years, the coaches that have coached with me are the ones that really get this done.
"They say that when rich people die they leave money, but when a coach dies he leaves a little bit of himself with all the people that played for him. Maybe I've done that."
In addition to the certificate and football, Coach Hayford will also receive a $1,000 donation to his Chargers football program.
If you know a coach that you feel is deserving of being the Buccaneers "Coach of the Week" please click here and submit his or her name, school, county and reason he or she should be selected.
Several factors are taken into account when selecting the Buccaneers Coach of the Week recipient, including the coach's impact on his team, school and community. The program is designed to recognize high school coaches who transform, through their hard work and dedication to young people, the best available athletes into high-potential football players.
All schools in Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Manatee and Sarasota are eligible regardless of size, league or division.