As a former head coach of the Atlanta Falcons and the Houston Oilers, it’s safe to say Jerry Glanville knows a thing or two about evaluating football players. After all of his years in the NFL, it was surprising to hear him say, “The group of defensive backs I coached in the 89th East–West Shrine Game was the best I’ve ever coached. All eight defensive backs on my team were taken in the 2014 NFL Draft. The talent in this year’s game was amazing! In all my years of coaching, I never had a secondary like that.”
All told, more than 100 players from the 89th East-West Shrine Game were either drafted by or signed as free agents with NFL teams. Of the 43 players who were drafted, there were 15 defensive backs, five linebackers, seven defensive linemen, two quarterbacks, six offensive lineman, five wide receivers, two tight ends and a kicker.
“People need to understand just how good the talent in this game is,” said Glanville. “When you go to an East-West Shrine Game you’re seeing the future stars of the NFL. Where else can you go and see 100 college players who are headed to the NFL in one game? Why wouldn’t you go? I’d go just to see 15 defensive backs that were headed to the pros. Add to that the game is dedicated to supporting such a great cause – Shriners Hospitals for Children – and you can’t lose.
“The NFL scouts love this game because there is such a concentration of high caliber players coached by NFL coaches who are putting them through drills that showcase their skill level,” said Glanville. “Scouts can learn more about a player during game week than they can following them around the country for a whole season.”
In January, Coach Glanville returned to the game’s home in St. Petersburg, Fla., to coach for a second consecutive year. “I’ll tell you what, I can’t imagine coaching a better group of players than the squad we had this year,” said Glanville. “They were a very intelligent group, who were focused and tuned in to what ever we asked them to do.
“One day we had a heavy rain and couldn’t get out on the field to practice so we held our practice in the dining room at the hotel. Can you imagine running a full speed passing drill in a dining room? But that’s what we did, and we came away a better team. It was awesome. The way the quarterbacks were slinging the ball around, it was surprising we didn’t put one through a window.
A month after the game I still had NFL teams calling me asking me what I thought about this or that player,” said Glanville. “The people who put on this game are doing a great job of finding quality players. I’m proud the game gives players the chance to impress the scouts and excite the crowd; but the most incredible aspect of the game is the meaning behind its slogan – More than just a game. It’s all about the hospitals and the children’s true demonstration of courage. I can guarantee you the players never forget their interactions with the kids.”
About Coach Glanville
Coach Jerry Glanville, a native of Perrysburg, Ohio, spent much of his life on the football gridiron. He played middle linebacker at Northern Michigan University, graduating in 1964 with a bachelor’s degree. He then went on to earn his master’s degree from Western Kentucky University, where he served as an assistant football coach. Glanville then became the defensive coordinator for the University of Hawaii, followed by a stint as defensive ends and outside linebackers coach at Georgia Tech in Atlanta.
Glanville began his NFL career as the special teams and linebacker coach for the Detroit Lions. Following his time in Detroit, Glanville became the defensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons – arguably his most noteworthy position. During this time, Glanville held every defensive record. His defensive strategy became known as the “Gritz Blitz”, where the defense would blitz every down.
From 1986 to 1989, Glanville served as head coach of the Houston Oilers, where he led the team to four playoff appearances, twice playing in the AFC divisional round. As an NFL head coach, Glanville led the Houston Oilers (1986–1989) during the era known as the "House of Pain.” He was famous for leaving tickets at will call for Elvis Presley, wearing all black to be easily recognized by his players, and driving replicas of vehicles driven by actor James Dean. Glanville returned to the Atlanta Falcons in 1990 as head coach, remaining there until 1993. During the 1991 season, the NFL declared Glanville’s roster the “most exciting team in NFL history.”
Recognized for his expertise and accomplishments as a coach, Glanville served as an analyst on several television networks, including the Football Network, CBS Sports, HBO Sports and Fox Sports. “The East-West Shrine Game is grateful for the contributions he’s made on behalf of the hospitals and the kids,” said Harold Richardson, executive director of East-West Shrine Game.