Q: You had a double major at A&T. How did that benefit you in your current job?
A: Because you get into group dynamics. You get into the socialization. You become a better listener. You develop a better understanding for people, for group interaction, for how people fit and don't fit.Q: Do you follow the Aggies?
A: My mother keeps me informed and my brother and sister-in-law are doctors in early childhood development at A&T. My youngest sister lives in South Carolina, and I have two nephews, one of whom just finished and another will enter as a freshman next year. He will probably play in the band. There were five of us (siblings) and all five attended and four of us graduated.
Q: What was the hardest thing about getting to where you are professionally?
A: Probably developing my personal standard. I came up in a different time. I was the only black coach at UNC, the only black coach at Duke and the only black coach at Georgia Tech for a while. There were a lot of things going on in that process. For some people, it may have been tough, but my upbringing from my family made it easier for me.
Q: How so?
A: My family never raised us as being black or white or anything. My parents weren't that way. My mother told me one time, "As long as you know who you are, where you came from and where you want to go, that's what's important." And that has been it.
Q: You were 8 when four A&T students refused to leave the Woolworth's lunch counter on Elm Street in Greensboro. What do you remember about that?
A: One of my cousins, David Richmond, was one of the four. I remember when the city had a transportation strike. I remember seeing the Klan march in downtown Greensboro. I was a Cub Scout at Trinity AME Zion Church and was an usher there when Rev. Martin Luther King preached there.
But that was then, you know? I've never tried to use growing up in Morningside Homes as any reason not to do my best. And I don't want to hear from anybody else about what caused them to be or not to be. It's not important. Now is what is important. Everybody arrives at a point from somewhere. When you get to that point, where are you going to take it?
Q: What other people in Greensboro were important to your development?
A: The guy who was most influential in my life was my junior high school coach, Lenwood Edwards. I was in his first class in his first year of teaching. From learning to play tennis to everything else, it was a process with him. And all the coaches I've had in my life were influential.
Q: How about at A&T?
A: I had an adviser there, Will Scott. Really smart guy. A little strange. The guy never wore socks. Never combed his hair. Chairman of the department. In a way, he guided me through the school because he was very demanding. I was a better student in my major than out of my major because the guy was strict.
Q: You started as a college coach. Why did you move into pro personnel?
A: I never saw myself as being a head coach. Never wanted to be a coordinator. I always liked the personnel part. That comes from my sociology and psychology background. To be honest, I never wanted to live that perfect life. I wanted to do what I wanted to do. Sometimes when you put yourself out on that (public) limb for a (head coaching) job, you've got to live certain ways. There are certain things I would commit myself to and certain things I wouldn't commit myself to.
Q: What's the closest you came to being a head coach?
A: Bill Curry, in my later years of coaching, was the most important. He offered me the assistant head coaching job at Kentucky. I turned it down. Twice. My dad told me to take it. But you know, I didn't think that was my calling. My calling is what I'm doing now.
Q: In your job, you're responsible for identifying free agents, working out contracts, working out trades and anything else dealing with players currently in the NFL. When investigating a player or getting to know him, what do you want to know?
A: I care about character. I care about values. I care about work ethic. What don't I care about? Where you came from. I don't care about the excuse for why you've become what you've become. You are what you are. And you decide it.
Q: What else interests you?
A: Freedom of expression. Being able to have your voice. I like food. I like wine. I care about world politics.
Q: So if you were president right now, what would you be working on?
A: I think I would pay a little more attention to the people who are on the ground fighting the war. And I'd pay attention to the people who have an opinion. You've got to consider the source, of course, but you've got to consider the opinions of those you place in charge.
I care about a lot of things politically. I'm from a mill town. Whether it's furniture or textiles, I care about people with jobs and people without jobs. I don't watch too much TV. I do watch more CNN and Fox than anything else.
- Rob Daniels