Nov. 16, 2015
By Brad Muller | More Features
For much of his life, former South Carolina defensive back Andre Goodman had a purpose to blanket wide receivers and make tackles and interceptions. Now the 10-year NFL veteran, who will be introduced as part of the 2015 SEC Football Legends Class in December, has a different purpose as the Gamecocks' Director of Football Student-Athlete Development.
“My job has a lot to do with grooming players for life after football and helping them transition from high school to college, and then from college to the real world,” Goodman said. “We talk a lot about career development, job placement, time management and balancing your personal life with school, academics and your profession. We want the (student-athletes) to maintain that sense of balance once they leave the playing arena and enter into the real world.”
Goodman played cornerback for South Carolina from 1998-2001. He earned second-team All-SEC honors by the league’s coaches as a senior and was named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll during his career. He was selected in the third round of the 2002 NFL draft by the Detroit Lions, and also played with the Miami Dolphins and Denver Broncos during his decade in the NFL. Now in his fourth year on the job with his alma mater, Goodman knows that a professional playing career is short, and that most student-athletes won’t be playing professional football.
“Managing expectations and helping student-athletes remain realistic is key,” Goodman said. “It is tough, even if they do make it to the pros. They have to be realistic because it’s a violent sport, and it doesn’t take much to go from playing to not playing in the matter of just one play. Helping them become realistic is the toughest challenge, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m not here to kill their dreams. I’m here to give them tools and resources to help them transition.”
As he focuses on off-the-field activities of the student-athletes and serving as an important resource in balancing the demands of academics, athletics, community outreach, and their personal lives in their transition in and out of college athletics, Goodman noted that one of the most important factors for being successful in his role is trust.
“When they can actually sit down and have a conversation outside the game of football that they normally wouldn’t have with someone else, it means a lot,” Goodman said. “It can be tough for some of them to talk about personal issues, so anytime they can trust you enough to open up, that trust is probably the most gratifying thing. If they can see my sincerity so that they can open up to me and trust the reason why I am here, which is solely to help them, then I feel like I’m doing what I should be doing.”
It’s so easy and natural for athletes to overcome adversity, but handling prosperity can be a lot tougher.
Goodman understands the difficulty in making transitions from personal experience, and he wants the student-athletes to know that he’s been there.
“You want to be great at everything you do, but you don’t realize how tough it is,” Goodman said. “Staying centered and keeping a mental balance is always the toughest part. Since I retired (from the NFL), it’s a daily challenge because my intensity and my energy are still at the NFL level, but the world doesn’t move as fast. The NFL is daily evaluations and competition. We can use that in the real world, but we don’t get up with that same intensity every day. It’s hard because if I ever feel like I can’t be great today, then I feel like I’m wasting my day.”
Goodman saw highs and lows during his Gamecock career, which included a 1-21 record during his first two seasons, followed by back-to back Outback Bowl victories in his last two years.
“It’s so easy and natural for athletes to overcome adversity,” Goodman said. “But handling prosperity can be a lot tougher because when you feel like you have ‘arrived,’ what keeps that fire burning inside of you? Not becoming apathetic is tough. I try to relate it in football terms to the guys because it is all about life after football.
“Whatever your goals may be, once you get there, if you don’t set another goal then you’re really just going through the motions. That’s not what the journey is about. The journey is where the energy should be; not the destination. The journey is endless.”
Among the 37-year-old’s best memories of his playing days at South Carolina are beating top-ten ranked Georgia in 2000 and a victory over rival Clemson as a senior in 2001. Goodman will represent South Carolina as part of the 2015 SEC Football Legends class, which includes 14 former stars who excelled on the gridiron and helped write the rich history of the sport at their respective institutions.
“It takes a lot to get me excited, but I am very excited,” Goodman said about being named to the Legends class. “I’ve never been big on accolades, but any time someone appreciates your efforts, it’s always rewarding. I don’t need a lot of fanfare, but this feels like a nice ribbon on my career. I’m very humbled and appreciative. It means a lot.”
Always thinking ahead, Goodman looks to apply this honor to his work with current student-athletes.
“Any bit of credibility you can get with these kids, so I can gain trust with them and have conversations with them, gives me purpose,” Goodman said. “My life now is all about purpose”
The Legends class will be honored at the 2015 SEC Football “Weekend of Champions” December 4-5 in Atlanta, Ga. The annual SEC Legends Dinner presented by AT&T will be held December 4 at the Hyatt Regency in Atlanta, and the group will also be recognized prior to the SEC Football Championship Game, which will be held at the Georgia Dome on Saturday, December 5.
Goodman and his wife, Shana, have four children, Fabian, Andre, Kennedy and Mason.
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