Corder: Lewis shares lessons with li’l Greenies

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 30, 2003

It began as just another day of practice for the Cathedral High junior high football team.

Let’s go to work men, right? But, hold the mouthpiece.

Who’s the new guy in the back with hands that look like he can palm Jupiter and Mars?

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The guy who, if you threw him a pair of cleats, a helmet and shoulder pads, looks like he could still probably lay out some mean licks on all of us.

Greenies, meet Albert Lewis; Albert, Greenies.

On the groveling of friend Wally Caldwell, Lewis, the former All-Pro with the Kansas City Chiefs, was more than accommodating to take a look at the youngsters and offer a few tips.

&uot;We kind of soften the blow a little bit by bringing in a highlight tape,&uot; Lewis said when he first walked through the door. &uot;I watched them play first. Then we put in my tape, and then we went back over what they were doing, right and wrong. Through all that, they became pretty loose.&uot;

Lewis, who played cornerback in the league for 16 years &045; the last five were spent with Oakland &045; retired from the NFL in 1998 to Greystone, a 320-acre ranch north of Centreville, where he breeds and trains racing horses.

After dealing exclusively with quarterhorses for some time, Lewis is slowly transitioning into the big boys &045; thoroughbreds.

Speed begets speed, I guess. Unlike most of the chosen few that make it to the show but cannot push themselves into retirement, Lewis walked away five years ago and hasn’t peeked over his shoulder.

&uot;I knew it was my time to leave. I probably stayed longer than I should have,&uot; he admitted. &uot;I made up my mind that I had used up the energy I had for it. If you don’t have the proper energy, you shouldn’t be out there collecting a check.&uot;

From the years he suited up for the legendary Eddie Robinson at Grambling, the Mansfield, La., native has always played the game out of respect, not for the almighty green &045; ironic, that’s precisely what big stakes horse racing business is all about.

For 11 years with the Chiefs, the four-time Pro Bowler (1987-90) snagged 38 interceptions, including seven years where he had more than four.

Lewis said he enjoyed his day with Cathedral’s junior high team, being able to see the lights go off in their eyes, but is not sure if he’d like to make a career out of coaching.

&uot;These are the best years in football. It’s time to enjoy the game, as kids,&uot; Lewis said. &uot;When you get older you fall under a lot of stress, which makes the game more work than ever.&uot;

The biggest lesson Lewis tried to teach the little Greenies in the one-time offer was a life drill, more than what to look for in specific coverages or something that goes on between the white lines.

&uot;You can’t let anyone set limits for you,&uot; he said. &uot;This game takes a lot of self discipline and a dogged personality. Anything you want to get done, follow your gut, no matter what people are telling you to do.&uot;

Chuck Corder

is a sports writer for The Natchez Democrat. You can reach him at (601) 445-3633 or by e-mail at