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Garry Cobb Transition Coach Profile

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February 14, 2024

Garry Cobb Transition Coach Profile

In the first profile of this series, Garry discusses challenges for transitioning players, talks about his own transition out of the NFL, and shares how he builds trust as a Transition Coach.

Garry Cobb

The NFL Transition Coach program uses a peer-to-peer coaching model that empowers trained NFL Legends to serve as mentors, supporters and sounding boards for players transitioning out of the NFL. NFL Total Wellness provides at least 70 hours of training for Transition Coaches to give them the skills to build relationships with transitioning players and to identify when individuals are struggling or need additional support. This interview series briefly profiles the coaches who assist players navigating the challenges of life after the game.

During his 11-year career in the NFL, Garry Cobb was a linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions and Philadelphia Eagles. He is now a Philadelphia Eagles analyst for Fox affiliate WTXF-TV and 94.1 WIP. Garry has also been a Transition Coach since the program began in 2013. In the first profile of this series, Garry discusses challenges for transitioning players, talks about his own transition out of the NFL, and shares how he builds trust as a Transition Coach. In this profile we have drafted a narrative based on a small section of Garry’s responses to four important questions.

“This is their identity. Everywhere they go, they’re that football player. And then when they get released, some of that identity — who they are — starts to change. A player feels like he’s losing who he is.”

In discussing the challenges that NFL players face while transition out of the NFL, Garry shared that realizing the end of an NFL career can be difficult and “sobering.” Players can experience several losses at one time: the loss of employment and income, loss of structure, and loss of a community and social support. Garry has seen first-hand how these combined losses can result in unhelpful behaviors such as self-isolation and withdrawal.  Players might also demonstrate a range of emotional responses, including increased irritability, anxiety and fear.

“I was scared. I realized my career was over. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, and I didn’t know what I could do. While I was playing, I was the veteran player with all the answers. Then, all of a sudden, I was the rookie. I hadn’t been in that kind of position for a long time, so it was stressful when I eventually retired”

During his own transition, Garry acknowledged some denial and anger that initially made no longer playing difficult to accept. However, after beginning to accept more, he was eventually able to find an opportunity in media. Garry notes that his former teammates remarked that they “knew” he would be in media, but that no one ever said anything. Through his own experience, Garry suggests that players not isolate during their time of transition. He also encourages them to seek input from previous teammates, as they may have ideas about good next steps, based on their time playing together and sharing a locker room.  In his role as a Transition Coach, Garry at times finds himself helping individuals who he used to play against. His role allows him to put all the on-field conflicts “to the side” and focus on connecting and building trust with the players he coaches.

“I don’t ask really tough questions until we’re at a point in our relationship where I can do that. That’s where you really need a feel for the guy. You want him to know you care about him. If he doesn’t feel that way, you won’t get anywhere. “

To build trust Garry must “take off the mask” and open up. He also recognizes that each player requires an individualized approach and allows them to work at their own pace, providing them the freedom to open up in their own time.  This approach to relationship building offers the players he works with a level of comfort that results in a lasting connection and friendship, even once the coaching relationship has ended.  Garry identifies his ability to empathize with other players a personal strength and stresses the importance of creating an environment that allows room for both laughter and difficult conversations as essential in the support that Transition Coaches provide.