Don Warren returned to the Redskins on May 23 as a pro scout. Warren, previously a football and baseball coach at Centreville High School, was a Redskins tight end from 1979-92 and was named one of the 70 Greatest Redskins in 2002. He sat down with Redskins.com recently to discuss his new position:
Q: First of all, what are your thoughts on coming back to the organization?
A: "It's awesome. I've been out of the NFL for about 13 years now. I retired in 1992. I was debating on what to do. I had been coaching in high school. That was the best thing I ever did because I was able to watch my kids grow up and I was able to be on the sidelines with them. I was able to coach them. Now they're all grown up and I'm looking for something to do. And basically, all I know is football. My career just kept pointing back to the Redskins. When Joe Gibbs came back in January 2004, I had already been thinking about coming back for a year. It's just a perfect situation for me."
Q: What will your job with the Redskins entail?
A: "Well, I'm still learning a lot, but it's basically evaluating pro personnel and NFL Europe and things like that. I think the ultimate goal is that I pretty much have to know every NFL player that there is by the book. Part of it is I have to immerse myself in my office and read NFL.com and different web sites every day just to get the scoop on everybody."
Q: Is there a particular type or quality of player you'll look for?
A: "I'm basically going to look for a good football player. Like I said, football is all I've ever done. Whether it was in the NFL for 14 years or college or Pop Warner or coaching high school, I've gotten to a point where I know good footwork and I know hand placement. I think I know what it takes to be a good football player. I spent 14 years watching some of the best and I haven't forgotten those guys. I don't forget how fast their feet were. Gary Clark could run full speed in five steps. There are very few people who could do that. You don't forget things. I think it's going to come easy for me."
Q: You worked some in television discussing the Redskins last season. What's your take on what may need to happen for the Redskins to turn it around?
A: "First of all, I have so much respect for Joe Gibbs. He's the type of coach who knows how to read a good football player. He knows how to read the heart. It took him a year to figure out who's a Redskin and who's not. His ultimate goal is to get those people who have the heart that he knows, in the fourth quarter when times get tough and it's a critical point in the game, he's going to have the right personnel in there. He's going to know the heart of the people in there. They're going to be people who just don't give up. They might not be people who are the best in talent. For example, I don't think I'm the fleetest of foot. I'm not someone with the best hands in the world, even though I didn't drop that many balls or get that many balls thrown to me. But I was a fighter. That's the type of player he looks for."
Q: How did this job come about?
A: "It was pretty much persistence. I just kept on calling [director of college scouting] Scott Campbell for two months. I wanted to get back with the Redskins and I wanted to get back in pro football so bad that I just called Scott up and told him, 'I want to get back. I'd like to do some scouting--specifically pro scouting, because I have a family and I didn't want to be traveling all over the United States.' I realize there's going to be some travel involved in pro scouting, but not as much as college scouting. So I specifically wanted to be a pro scout. I called different coaches and asked them to put in a good word for me. Things just happened to work out. And I'm elated."
Q: Is there anything in your time as a high school football coach that can apply to your new job as a scout?
A: "Sure. I ended up in my last 5-6 years [at Centreville High School] serving as offensive coordinator. You know what, I don't care if it's a high school player or a college player, the key to this game is technique. The game is footwork. I see all of that. I think I can tell you whether a player is using the right footwork and does he have a good arm pump. All the stuff is needed to be a good football player, I'm knowledgeable on that."
Q: As you look back on your playing career, what are you most proud of?
A: "I actually look back on it and say, 'Man, I fooled them for 14 years. That's pretty good.' (Laughs.) Seriously, it was the Super Bowls. There were guys like Steve Bartkowski and Jim Hart who played a long time and they never got a chance to play in the Super Bowl--and I played in four. I earned three winning rings and one NFC Championship ring that we don't talk about. I'm probably proud of the first Super Bowl the most because a lot of people didn't give us a chance. We were so young and basically a no-name offensive line. To go out there and play the way we did, that was probably the most special out of all of them. As time went on, we developed that camaraderie. People just knew we were going to go out there take it to them. People knew it."