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Herm Edwards turned his famous press-conference line "You play to win the game!" into the title of his book.
Herm Edwards turned his famous press-conference line "You play to win the game!" into the title of his book. (Courtesy www.hamiltonbook.com)

Chiefs Coach Herm Edwards: You play golf to find the ball

Chris BaldwinBy Chris Baldwin,

STATELINE, Nev. - Herm Edwards plays football to win the game. He plays golf just to be able to find the ball for his next shot.

The veteran NFL player and coach, who took over the new Kansas City Chiefs this year after five seasons with the New York Jets, is known for Hermisms such as "You play to win the game!" - a line that ranks second to only Jim Mora's screeching "Playoffs? You kidding me? Playoffs!" in the annals of post-game press-conference rants.

But Edwards also led the Jets to the postseason three times in five seasons, something none of his predecessors managed.

Not that Jets fans or the New York media noticed. Edwards got more criticism for suspect clock management and conservative play-calling then he did praise for his motivational skills. That, and sticking with Chad Pennington until the Jets quarterback's arm practically fell off, led to a messy parting.

In Kansas City, the eight-year NFL cornerback has taken charge of a running back on the cusp of stardom (Larry Johnson) and a defense in need of revamping. Edwards' new neighbors won't see him on the golf course (this longtime Californian only plays in summertime), but we expect they'll settle for seeing him still prowling the sidelines in January.

We wonder how many Jets fans will bet their team will be there more often over the next five seasons.

Q: When do you work in your golf with your schedule?

A: Generally in June, when I go home to California. You don't get to practice. Love playing. I love the game of golf. But I don't have the time. I'm not one of those coaches that sneak out to the golf course. I'm at the office all day. I like being around the players, like being around the staff. So I don't take the time to try and do it.

But when I do it, I enjoy playing. I really do.

Q: When did you first get started?

A: I didn't get started playing really until probably my sixth year in the league. I'm a novice at it. Never had any lessons. Just kind of picked up a club and started playing.

And then actually played in the old AT&T at Pebble Beach. Played in that thing twice. That was scary. People thought I actually knew what I was doing. I had no idea.

Q: What do you love about golf?

A: I like it that you have no one to blame but yourself. Every time you hit a ball there's always something different happening. And you try and figure out, "What just happened?"

You have to keep your composure. And I believe in that. It's a challenging game. It really is.

Q: People look at you on the sidelines and you're one of the calmer coaches in the NFL. Does that carry over to the golf course?

A: Yeah, it does. I don't curse. I really don't. Sometimes I say, "Why'd you hit that shot?" Because you're not any good, that‘s why you hit that shot. [Laughs]

I just believe in, when you hit one, you don't worry about it. It's a game of recovery. If I can find it, I can hit it again. And as long as I can do that, I'm OK. It's a lot about life when you play golf. You test yourself. You have no one else to depend on. You have no teammates, no coach to blame. It's on you.

Q: What's your handicap now?

A: Probably about a 15.

Q: Do you have a favorite golf moment?

A: I had a hole-in-one. Playing a tournament in Montclair, New Jersey. First year that I was with the Jets, playing with [New York] broadcaster Marty Lyons at this par 3, hit an eight iron. ...

Earlier in the day my wife said, "Where you going?" "I'm going to play in a golf tournament." Made a bet with her that I'll make a hole-in-one. So I walk up to the green and everyone's shaking my hand. I'm like, what for? They're, "It's in the hole." You've got to be kidding me, I made a bet with my wife. They're like, "What do you get?" I got a handshake.

Q: Do Chiefs fans treat you any differently when they see you on the course than Jets fans do?

A: No, about the same. I think the fans that enjoy me as a coach treat me very, very well and the ones that don't like me as much, they treat me so and so. But for the most part I had a pretty good stay with the Jets. It was just time to leave.

Q: So you don't get any hecklers out on the course in these celebrity events, getting on you for your time management or anything?

A: Well, you might get some hecklers. But that doesn't bother me. I'm not a good enough player to worry about hecklers. I learned how to play golf with a lot of pros. Noise doesn't bother me. It won't bother me one bit.

Q: What got you started golfing?

A: I used to work out on a golf course. Run on a golf course. The [head pro] came out one day and said, "Why don't you start playing?" I said, well, I don't have any clubs. He brought me in there, I got some clubs. Ever since then I've been swinging.

Q: Who's the best football golfer that you've seen?

A: Let me think. That's a good question. Trent Dilfer's pretty good. I know that when I was in Tampa, he was the player. He's probably one of the best ones that I've seen play.

Q: Is there a football guy you've seen out on the course who you think, golf really isn't his sport, he needs to stick to tackling?

A: I haven't seen everybody play yet. I can't comment on that right now.

Chris Baldwin keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.

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