From red zone to combat zone, why former Bama RB back Glen Coffee traded the NFL for the Army Rangers

Glen Coffee was a very productive running back during his time at Alabama. A a junior, Coffee rushed for 1,501 yards and left many eagerly anticipating his senior season. But Coffee left for the NFL early to the surprise of many.

Coffee would get drafted by the San Francisco 49ers, but only play one season with the team, choosing to walk away from football after just one year in the NFL. Many scratched their heads. Some people surely thought it was a mistake and lamented a wasted talent.

Little did they know that Coffee had a plan. Wasted talent? Hardly. Glen Coffee is now training Army Rangers.

Coffee’s amazing journey from training to play football to training soldiers to jump out of airplanes, to possibly himself training to become a Ranger was recently profiled in the Washington Post.

Coffee told the Post:

“I got to high school, and I played because my friends played, and then when I realized that I was good enough for college, at that point it was to get school paid for,” Coffee said. “And I still had a year left to play at ‘Bama, but I didn’t come back because I didn’t want to play football anymore. So I figured if I got paid to play football, I would tolerate it. So I got to the NFL and I got the money, and it was mo’ money, mo’ problems, pretty much. And I found out it wasn’t for me.”

At 28, Coffee is now a specialist in the Army infantry and is a paratrooper assigned to Army Ranger School at Eglin Air Force Base.

He told the Post:

“Not everyone can serve in combat arms, and not everyone can serve in a Special Operations capacity,” he said. “So that’s why I joined. I felt like I was able to do it. Physically and mentally, because there is a mental aspect to it, too.”

An excerpt from the Post article:

Coffee’s section leader, Sgt. 1st. Class Joshua Sullivan, said Coffee has shown himself to be quiet, humble and “squared away,” one of the biggest compliments one soldier can give another. It’s not uncommon for inexperienced soldiers to have doubts about attending Ranger School, but many of them with Coffee’s drive eventually gravitate toward the challenge, Sullivan said.

So Glen Coffee has gone from doing something he didn’t enjoy, playing football, but could offer him fame and money to doing something with no promise of fame or money and full of sacrifice, serving his country. Coffee rarely does interviews, so reading the full interview by the Washington Post is a must.

Glen Coffee may not have turned into a Pro-Bowl NFL player, but what he is doing is bigger than anything on a football field.  The path Glen Coffee has chosen should make Bama fans everywhere proud.

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