LARNED — A few evenings ago I sat down with Dave “Red Man” Redding who coached for 24 seasons in the National Football League. Who is Dave Redding? A little history is in order.
Dave spent a lot of his grade-school years in Larned as his father, George “Crump” Redding, was the football coach of the Larned Indians during the late 1950’s and early l960’s before moving on to North Platte, Neb., in 1962, where he became a coaching legend.
You older Great Bend and Larned football fans will remember some of those Larned teams that knocked heads with Great Bend in the tough West Central Kansas League that also included Pratt, Russell, Hays, Dodge City and, later, Garden City. It was a monster of a football league, and Redding guided the Indians to two straight league championships in 1957 and 1958.
Dave was an outstanding high school player in North Platte and went on to be a three-year letterman at defensive end (1973-75) under legendary coaches Bob Devaney and Tom Osborne. Redding went on to become one of the first, and most sought after, strength coaches in all of football. Prior to entering the NFL ranks, Redding served as the University of Missouri’s first-ever strength coach from 1978-81. Previously, in 1977, he became the first-ever strength coach at Washington State. Today, a strength coach on a coaching staff is as common as pigskin is to football.
Redding joined the Green Bay Packers in 2009 as strength and conditioning coordinator and was part of a staff that helped guide the Packers to a Super Bowl XLV title before retiring in 2011. One constant for Redding was former Chiefs’ head coach, Marty Schottenheimer. He worked for Schottenheimer in Cleveland, Kansas City, San Diego and with the Washington Redskins before parting ways. In 2006, Redding was named the NFL’s strength and conditioning coach of the year following the Chargers’ 14-2 season. In 24 seasons as an NFL coach, Redding was a part of 16 playoff teams so his techniques, his coaching must have had something right about it.
I quizzed Redding that recent evening about who he thought was the best football player he saw in those 24 seasons and he answered me this way: “Let me say this. Ernest Byner, a running back for the Cleveland Browns was the toughest player I was ever around.”
Byner had a 13-year NFL career and is now coaching with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
When asked who was the best coach he worked for Redding answered, “Marty Schottenheimer was the most thorough, the most prepared of any coach I was ever around. He left nothing to chance.”
When quizzed about the best athlete he didn’t hesitate. “Dale Carter of the Kansas City Chiefs. He was an incredible athlete but he didn’t always use his brain to stay out of trouble.” Carter, a cornerback played seven years for the Chiefs but got suspended one full year for substance abuse. To Carter’s credit, upon retirement he started a non-profit organization to help young men and women to keep away from the problems that he got into. The Dale Carter Foundation is functioning today in Georgia and Texas.
Naturally, I wanted to know who Redding thought was the best leader, the best quarterback, that he was around, or saw, in his 24 seasons. He jumped on that one. “No question, it’s the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers. A supreme talent. Smart, hard-working and humble. If he avoids serious injury, Rodgers will pile up passing and offensive records that will be so far out there that nobody will ever touch them. He’s that good.”
Rodgers had this to say about Redding: “He was a great teacher who believed in doing things the right way but more than that, I enjoyed our conversations off the field and hearing his stories and philosophies about life.”
Amen to that Aaron Rodgers. Dave “Red Man” Redding has a lot of stories. I’m looking forward to the next time we get to do a sit down together.
Charles Tabler is a contributing writer from Larned.