The 2015 NFL draft is 21 days away. Check out some photos of former Bucs #21 Donnie Abraham, a 1996 third round pick.
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Donnie Abraham retired from a nine-year career in the NFL in 2004. Ten years later, he still hasn't left football. He can't. It's in his blood.
Abraham played cornerback for the Buccaneers from 1996, the year the team drafted him in the third round of the NFL Draft, to 2001 before finishing his career with the Jets. Abraham recorded 38 interceptions, 442 tackles and danced in the end zone three times during his time as an NFL player. In 1999, he led the league in interceptions and in 2000, he was named to the Pro Bowl.
Following his playing career, like many former pros, Abraham was unsure what his next step would be.
"When I first retired, I really didn't know what was going to be next," Abraham said. "The big thing for me was that it was time for me to take a break and move onto the next phase in my life. I did have one restaurant that I was operating in South Carolina, so I did get into that business before I retired. When I retired I opened another restaurant here in Florida."
"I had those two restaurant businesses going, but again, when you retire, it's one of those things where you don't know what the next phase of your life is going to be. Having a family, I knew I would spend a lot of my time with them, just watching my kids grow up and things like that."
The one thing he swore he would never do was become a coach.
"I told myself that I would never be a coach because when you're playing, you see how much time those guys put into it, sometimes sleeping at the office. At that time, as a player, I said I would never be a coach."
While on the sidelines of his oldest son's youth football practice, a local high school coach, whose son played on the same team as Abraham's, approached him about helping out his team. It didn't take much convincing.
"Our sons were playing together and we met out there on the youth league field," Abraham said. "Through talking and going to the football games and stuff he mentioned me coming out and helping at the high school. I did. I came out and started helping him out there."
"I kind of got talked into coming in and helping out and my passion for teaching just kind of kept growing from that point on."
Before long, Abraham was hooked. He became the head coach at Gibbs High School in St. Petersburg and led the team to its first-ever district title in 2009. Abraham left high school coaching for a job in Arena Football with the Tampa Bay Storm, but returned to high school after two seasons.
"Going into the Arena League was a way for me to gain more experience coaching," Abraham said. "At that time, I had already been a high school coach for two years so I wanted to gain some more experience working with some older guys and get the professional sense of it."
"My second year with the Storm, I was looking at where I was going and I was looking at my family as well. I had a young family. All three of my kids were in sports. I knew that if I moved on from there to college or the NFL that I would miss a lot of my kids' activities; I wouldn't be able to be around to see them or pick them up from school, things like that. I decided that I had two years in the Arena League and, when I reassessed the situation, that it was probably best to go back to high school."
Abraham's youngest son is in eighth grade. In five years, he will head off to college. When that time comes, Abraham believes be would like to move on to coaching in college or the NFL.
Maybe even with the Buccaneers.
"Three, four, five, six years from now, if that passion is still there or something becomes available, that might be the goal - college or the NFL," Abraham said.
"Tampa is my home now. Of course Tampa and the Bucs would be ideal, especially with (coach) Lovie (Smith). I was a player there when he was a coach. If something were to become available there, that would be awesome. I'm just trying to enjoy life now. Coaching is something I love. I enjoy doing it. I'd love to coach at the next level when the time is right."