Kenard Lang Q+A

Kenard Lang is one of those guys who, as the cliché goes, has football in his blood. Not only did he play defensive end for the University of Miami, on a defense that included future HOFers like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, but he also carved out an 11-year career in the NFL. There, he amassed 50 career sacks while playing for the Broncos, Browns and Redskins. Now Lang is a high school football coach in Orlando and for Nike Football Training Camps and Combines. He also devotes a large portion of his time to his foundation, which helps support families and individuals affected by cancer (we strongly encourage you to check it out).

Lang was kind enough to speak to TDdaily over the phone earlier this month. Interested in hearing about the University of Miami player who once ripped Ray Lewis’ facemask off of his helmet, or what goes through the mind of a defensive end as he’s about to attack an opposing quarterback? Keep reading and you can find out.
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TDdaily: So you’re now coaching football at Wekiva High School in Orlando. How’d that come about?
Kenard Lang: I’ve always been interested in coaching. In the NFL I was always like the ” team captain” whenever we had like camp or OTAs or anything like that. A lot of times I was in charge of talking to the rookies and teaching them what to do and how to play. From that point on I knew that if my NFL coaches could trust me to talk to and teach the rookies, well then, I had the ability to work with high school kids as well.

TD: Who are some younger players you worked with in the NFL?
KL: Elvis Dumervil was one guy I worked with a lot in Denver when I was in Denver. When he came in, coach kind of put me in charge of working with him and talking to him and teaching him. I talked to him about like different techniques, how to play, and the philosophy of being a professional football player. I would also help translate things the coaches would say.

TD: Got any examples?
KL:I guess as far as like downs and distance. He might have some pass rush move that might work, but some might take longer than others, so, for example, say it’s like a spin move and you’re a defensive end. The only time that spin move will work on a quarterback is if he’s in a seven-step drop and not a three-step one. So in a three-step drop, you’re better off using something like a quick power rip. That’s some of the kind of stuff I would talk to him, and other young guys about. Things like understanding down and distance.

TD: If the pass rush move you plan on using something decided before the play, or is it more instinctual?
KL: Well it depends on how you rush the passer. How you played the guy previously. When you rush as a defensive end, you’re like a pitcher in baseball—everything you do should look the same like how a pitcher throws a fast ball and change up. You have to make the different moves start from a similar looking positions. So the thought process is to always have a primary move planned out, but you should also be ready to go to your secondary move if your first move is stopped

TD: You played on some terrible teams in the NFL, like the Cleveland Browns. This might be a silly question, but how hard was that? How much does that wear on you?
KL: In football it’s almost like a double-edged sword. Everything you do is for the team and about the team, and a team is what wins or loses. But you also have to make sure you take care of your job. You don’t really have to be selfish you just have to make sure you take care of your part. But when you start losing, that’s when the professional side comes out of you. So even if you know this team isn’t going to win, you have a contract you have to abide by and you have to go out there and perform to your fullest. You know, that’s your job.

TD: You played for a lot of big-name coaches. Who was you favorite  to play for?
KL: I would probably say my favorite coach I played for was Marty Schottenheimer. I also loved playing for Romeo Crennel. I’d have to throw in Butch Davis, too. Those three.

TD: I’m surprised to hear you say Romeo Crennel since he really wasn’t so successful.
KL: I just enjoyed playing for him. I enjoyed his coaching philosophy and mind set.

TD: Which is or was?
KL: All of them are different. Marty Schottenheimer was more of the philosopher. He dealt a lot with the big picture. For example, of the things I remember to this day that he would say is “Before you make a decision you control it, but once you make it—it controls you.” And what he meant by that is a lot of people can deal with the decisions they make, but the problem is they probably can’t deal with the consequences that comes with those decisions. If you can’t deal with the consequence then don’t make that decision.

TD: You played for some great, and interesting, University of Miami teams. What was that experience like?
KL: I loved it. The University of Miami changed the whole game of college football, and I think professional football too. The whole idea of a 4-3 defense with athletic defensive ends and Mike linebackers who could run sideline to sideline. Just look at the guys who were on that defense—they all are the standard and who new guys get compared to when talking about greatness at their positions. Warren Sapp changed the way the “Three-Technique” was played. Ray Lewis is the guy at middle linebacker. Ed Reed at safety. Our teams were full of Hall of Famers.

TD: What are your favorite stories from your days at The U? 
KL: For me, Two memories come to mind. One is when we lost to Nebraska my freshman year in the National Championship game. We had that game won and let it slip away. The second one is when we played Florida State on ESPN on Saturday night in 1994. That game was probably the most exiting, lively game I’ve ever played in, and that includes my NFL days. It was just an awesome atmosphere. It was unbelievable. There’s nothing like playing in the Orange Bowl.

TD: Those teams were known for having a bunch of crazy guys. Who was the craziest teammate you ever had?
KL: KC Jones, our center. He was unstable but you loved him anyway. He was one of those guys you loved to play with and hated to play against. One time we had a scrimmage and he and Ray Lewis got into a fight. KC pulled the facemask off Ray’s helmet.

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