When Antonio Pierce retired from the New York Giants following the 2009 season, two of his former defensive coordinators -- Steve Spagnuolo and Gregg Williams -- asked if he'd want to attend a coaching internship program. Pierce says now that he didn't feel up to the time commitment that would have required and preferred to spend his immediate post-career time reconnecting with his family.
But he also says he always wanted to go into coaching, so the opportunity to become head coach at Long Beach Poly High School in California was perfect for him. Pierce will be announced as that school's head football coach Thursday afternoon. He'll continue to work as an ESPN studio analyst, with his assistant coaches handling practices on days he's in Bristol. (Former NFL quarterback Mark Brunell, who works at ESPN and also coaches high school football in Jacksonville, has a similar arrangement.) And Pierce said some of his assistants will be former NFL players, including former Giants running back Derrick Ward and former NFL wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh. He said he'd also solicit the help of Long Beach Poly alums like DeSean Jackson, Winston Justice and Willie McGinest.
"I know how much it means to kids to see somebody who came from their situation and who's made it that far," Pierce said. "I always joked around that if I knew 5 percent of what I know now when I was in high school, in terms of technique, watching film, all of that, I would have been so much better."
Pierce has a son at the school but is not himself an alum, as he was born in Long Beach but raised in Compton. He said he expects the fact that he's a former NFL player with a Super Bowl ring to help him get the attention of his new charges, but "one thing I don't have is a CIF (California Interscholastic Federation) title, so that's still a goal of mine."