Summer workouts have concluded for the Taos Tiger football team, and the midmorning practices are now officially done.
The gridiron men get a short break before official “shell” practices begin in one week. The short breather is a welcome timeout for both players and coaches who have been hard at work for the last six months, preparing for the start of the 2017 fall season. Wrapping up the summer session was a short minicamp held by George Teague and Michael Haynes.
Returning to Taos for a second consecutive year was Teague, a former National Collegiate Athletic Association and National Football League player who is famously remembered for two iconic plays that live on in the memories of football aficionados everywhere. This was Haynes’ first visit to the area.
During his pro football career, Teague was solemnly given the nickname “defender of the star” for the way he protected the Dallas Cowboy logo against mockery from Terrell Owens, a brash wide receiver who played for the San Francisco 49ers.
Known as the “play on the star,” the incident occurred during a regular-season game played in Dallas, Texas, on Sept. 24, 2000. The visiting San Francisco 49ers were enjoying a comfortable lead and had just scored a touchdown – a pass play to Owens – who mockingly sprinted toward the center of the Dallas football field, stood within the star logo at midfield and, with outstretched arms, looked skyward – causing frenzied boos from the thousands of fans in attendance.
Later in the game, Emmitt Smith of the Cowboys scored a running touchdown and also sprinted to the star, spiking the football on the logo in front of a roaring home crowd – essentially trying to trump the disrespectful Owens.
Still later, another catch by Owens for another touchdown prompted him to repeat his insult atop the Dallas Cowboy star logo. This time, Teague, in full sprint, charged toward Owens, knocked him over and caused him to lose the football – all caught on live television.
Teague is also famously remembered for another iconic play that will live in the annals of NCAA history and YouTube. This play occurred during the national championship game in 1993, in which Teague was a defensive back for the Alabama Crimson Tide. Against a heavily favored Miami University, a long pass completion to a sideline-streaking Lamar Thomas from Miami should have resulted in a long touchdown – perhaps providing much-needed momentum to the trailing Miami Hurricanes in the third quarter of the Sugar Bowl. Out of nowhere, and again in full sprint, Teague caught up to Thomas and wrestled the football away from the unsuspecting wide receiver – destroying any comeback chances for the Hurricanes and securing a national title win for Alabama. Known favorably as “the strip,” Teague ultimately boosted his stock as a defensive player and was taken in the first round of the NFL draft. Thomas’ stock fell, and he was taken in the third round of the NFL draft the same year. These two plays provided relatable examples for his Taos Tiger football audience to “stand up for your values and never quit on the play” – on the football field and in life.
Teague played defensive back, or more specifically, free safety for nine years in the NFL. He was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in 1993 and played there for three seasons. He was traded to the Dallas Cowboys in 1996 and forwarded weeks later to the Miami Dolphins. Two years later, he was traded back to the Cowboys, where he finished his career in professional football.
Haynes was a first-round draft pick, taken 14th overall by the Chicago Bears in 2003. Haynes played college football for Pennsylvania State University and was the first player taken by the Bears. Haynes earned a Bachelor of Science in agricultural sciences from Penn State in 2003.
He spent three years in the NFL – playing for the Bears, the New Orleans Saints and the New York Jets before retiring in 2007.
His message to the Taos Tigers linemen was delivered in a clear and practical manner. Points of emphasis included the importance of doing their job, regardless of how simple it may seem. “Linemen don’t get to make glamorous plays,” said Haynes during defensive drills. “They sometimes just get in the way. It seems plain, but it is necessary.”
Teague coaches football at Shelton High School in Dallas, Texas. Both Teague and Haynes travel to many different schools throughout the country and abroad to share their knowledge of football to many youth interested in learning the game of football.
Taos Tiger coach Art Abreu was grateful for the presence of the visiting coaches. “These guys are like members of our family now,” said Abreu, who alluded to the team’s new slogan. “Fifty-five hearts, one heartbeat, is what we say when we end practice. These two coaches are now a part of that one heartbeat.”