Kimble Anders wasn't quite sure what to do. Like so many professional athletes, the former Kansas City Chiefs fullback said that life beyond the playing field was hard to face at first. After a 10 year career highlighted by three consecutive Pro Bowl appearances, Anders simply didn't know what to do next. Football was life.
Nearly 13 years have passed since Anders' final game in the NFL, and he's blossomed as a coach and mentor to many students in that time. In our latest AP interview, we spent some time with Anders and discussed his new coaching gig at home in Galveston, Texas, his perspective on his NFL career and what it was like to face the unknown when he left the game he loved.
How has that been to come back home to Galveston?
"It's been great. To be back home and get support from your classmates, friends and family is great. This is home. This is where I was born and raised. It's been really good so far."
Do you remember when you first had the inclination to coach? Was that always there for you as a player or did that take some time?
"Honestly it wasn't in my scope at all. I thought I was going to walk away and be some kind of big entrepreneur somewhere. [Laughs] I went out and spoke to some kids one day at a camp. It was my second or third year out of football. At that time, I had some business opportunities. I was working out still, but they asked me the next day if I wanted to coach.
"Ever since then, I realized this is what I want to be doing. It was something I could suddenly see myself doing. I mean, I've always loved the game. I love kids. From that point, the coaching bug hit me and I think that was 2003. I started coaching in different places -- Abilene University, Mid-America Nazarene, Kansas City public school district. What I get out of it now is being able to teach the mental aspect of the game and understanding the overall game."
Do you remember that moment well when you stopped playing and what that first year felt like?
"To be honest with you, at one point, it was a relief. Then at the same time, I went through a depression stage of not being able to do something I've been in the routine of doing for the last 10 years. I was bored. There was nothing to do. For that first year, I don't even think I watched football games.
"In my mind, I was saying I didn't want to watch the game after so many years of film study and football. I didn't watch a lot of football during the course of playing, but I just needed to move myself from it for a bit. After playing 10 years, when you break that routine, you're asking, 'What can I do now?' I mean, I had my foundation and I had some other things. But it was pretty tough."
Do you find that's common for guys coming out of football? Have you talked to others?
"Absolutely. Even when you think you have a plan in place, you still have to make that transition after you get done. Whether it's in business or coaching, you still have to make that transition from doing something that you have control over of your performance level and something of such high intensity.
"I tell my kids, 'I can only coach you. I can't play for you.' I wish I could. [Laughs] It's different leaving the playing field going into any other setting. I think a lot of athletes really struggle with that. Some of them excel, but some have a really tough time making that transition."
How much are you paying attention to the game nowadays?
"I'm a big fan of the sport. I mean, I don't... even when I was playing, I didn't watch a lot of it because we had to study it so much. But I'm a fan of it. I watch it. I just don't keep a really close watch on it. I mean I recognize a lot of the great talent out there. But when I watch it, I don't watch it as a regular fan. I'm watching to see what we can do to get better or what we can take from the game. I'm looking at all of the players and what they should be doing."
What about the Chiefs' turnaround?
"Definitely. That's exciting. Actually, before I left Kansas City, Andy [Reid] got hired. I had a couple of conversations with the guys who were there and they thought it was a great hire.
"Obviously, he's a leader. You take a guy like that... I mean, he reminds me of Marty Schottenheimer. He can take a team and lead them. They buy into his program and they're also having fun. At the end of the day, that's what it's about. He brings something to the table that only a few coaches can."
You enjoyed a great career with the Chiefs, but one of the most amazing things is the longevity of it compared to the average NFL player. You're either making plays with the ball or leading the way blocking for others and you managed to stay productive for 10 years. What do you attribute the longevity to?
"I tell my students right now that it's all about hard work. It's work ethic. It's consistency and discipline and doing the things you're supposed to do when nobody is watching. That's the thing. Coming up from right here in Galveston, the coaches demanded excellence. I was able to instill that in my own willpower to get better and work harder.
"Even when you have a bad game or something doesn't go your way, you have to learn how to overcome those hurdles. Somehow I was blessed to be prepared mentally to do that. You're going to make mistakes. You can't name a player who hasn't had a fumble or thrown an interception. It's going to happen. But you have to go in, make the adjustments and understand more about your strengths and your weaknesses."
You had seasons with several wins and personal awards with three Pro Bowl seasons. Is there one aspect you appreciate more than the others?
"[Pause] Honestly, it was making the 53-man roster. I don't know if you know this, but I went to Pittsburgh and got cut. I had to sit at home for a whole year. I went to the Chiefs in '91 and got signed. Just making the 53-man roster was a dream. It was a dream to play in the NFL and I knew I was capable of playing at that level. Certain things didn't go my way and I just had to work my way up the hard way. That was one of my biggest moments just being able to make that roster.
"Then obviously over the years, I had success, but that was the best. Of course, the Pro Bowl and then three in a row and being classified as one of the elite players in the game is a huge accomplishment. From being a free agent and being cut to being a three-time Pro Bowler who played for 10 years is huge. I outlasted a lot of people who were in my class. [Laughs]"
Anything else you want to leave with Chiefs fans?
"I'm definitely humbled and appreciative of all of the support I've gotten over the years. I tell a lot of people that being in Kansas City was the greatest place I could have been. People were so nice and so good. I love Kansas City. I enjoyed Kansas City. I appreciated the hospitality and never had any problems in Kansas City. They were also very respectful. Even if I had a bad game, nobody came to me the wrong way. I was pretty blessed. [Laughs]"