Monte Coleman was the epitome of the unheralded, blue-collar and over-achieving teams of the Joe Gibbs era in the 1980s and early 1990s. An 11th-round draft pick by the ‘Skins in 1979, Coleman carved out a 16-year career in D.C., played in the second most games in team history and won three Super Bowls.
Coleman, an athletically gifted linebacker, never started more than 11 games in a season, excelling instead as a situational pass rusher and a coveted, team-first super-sub on a bunch of elite ‘Skins teams. Truth be told, there are a lot of NFL teams Coleman could have started and starred for during his career, but he was consistently asked to sacrifice and accept a role beneath his talent — something he did with rare grace and professionalism.
True to his lack of look-at-me flash, Coleman’s indelible image isn’t of a play or tacky touchdown dance: It is of him standing on the field before every ‘Skins game, face stoic and determined, with his helmet held high. For me and for many ‘Skins fans, it is a cherished memory of when the team was like family and a source of civic pride.
Sitting down for a beer-side chat with Coleman would be an absolute thrill. I’d want to hear all about his journey, how he managed a 16-year career from the 11th-round and the source of his unwavering motivation, sense of team and pride in his work. In the end, something tells me I would leave the conversation not as an awestruck fan, but as a man with several “go-dos” to be a better person. Oh, and the one thing I’d have to ask? It would be to simply get a photo with him holding a ‘Skins helmet overhead.