Alumni Update: Scott Peters Back in the NFL Coaching
by Michael Chirichillo, Walter Cronkite PR Lab Class of 2021
Former Arizona State University football player Scott Peters is the definition of success both on and off the field. The long list of accomplishments for Peters varies from playing in the Super Bowl to helping world-class martial artists perfect their craft in the gym.
While Peters' achievements span throughout his many interests, football was always his main inspiration.
"I got interested in football pretty early on by my uncle, who was a player for the Dallas Cowboys," said Peters. "When I grew up, he was someone who was a role model for me."
Peters' family is from northern California, and his uncle decided to stay local and play college football at the University of California Berkeley. In high school, Peters realized his own potential to play at the next level but decided that he wanted a drastic change of scenery for his career as a student-athlete.
"I was always interested in Arizona State just because I liked the desert," said Peters.
He decided to take his interest further by making a visit to Arizona State University during his high school spring break. Packed with his VHS highlight tapes and crutches from a recent foot surgery, Peters was now getting his career as a Sun Devil started.
Upon arrival and with no hesitation, Peters crutched confidently to head football coach Bruce Snyder with his highlight reel and said, "Hey coach, hope you can live with this!"
From that moment the coaching staff welcomed Peters with open arms. They were the first group to offer him a scholarship as an offensive lineman, and there was an immediate strong bond built between the two parties. Like all premier high school athletes, Peters received multiple scholarship offers from major universities. However, it was the connection built with the ASU community that sold Peters.
"I just felt connected with ASU and I felt connected with all the coaches and players and the program, I just couldn't turn that down. I stuck with ASU and I don't regret the decision," said Peters.
Peters made great use of his time at ASU. While being a star offensive lineman on the field, he was also dedicated to his studies and balancing his time as a student.
"Nobody really enters college with a full grasp on the skill of time management yet," said Peters. "I think that was a challenge, but it was also something that I think I embraced and definitely helped me develop the skills, which are applicable to life outside of school and outside of football as well."
Peters graduated from ASU and proceeded with a career as a professional football player. He was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the fourth round of the 2002 NFL Draft. He played a successful eight years in the NFL including a Super Bowl appearance with the Arizona Cardinals in 2009.
Knowing he would have to hang up the cleats one day, Peters was prepared and excited for the next chapter in his career. Upon NFL retirement, he immediately dove into his next passion other than football, which was mixed martial arts. Helping to start the Lion's Den MMA Academy in Scottsdale, Arizona, he began to host and train the top fighters in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
"I love teaching, training, football and sports, but kind of got myself involved in martial arts because MMA was an emerging sport,'' said Peters.
Many successful fighters emerged from Peters' Lion's Den gym including UFC champions Brock Lesnar and Cain Velasquez. Not only was he boosting the careers of UFC superstar fighters, he was also earning two Brazilian jiu-jitsu world championships to help feed his competitive spirit.
"I found passion in martial arts and that was a segue out of my NFL career, because that's a tough segue when you have to stop playing football," said Peters.
Playing football was not the only contribution he was going to make to the sport. Peters established Tip of the Spear, a pioneer organization that meshes football safety and the techniques of MMA fighting to create a safer environment for players. Since 2012, Tip of the Spear has been providing training and instruction for coaches and players in an effort to reduce the number of head and neck injuries that are accrued playing football.
"When you look at the concussion crisis that was going on in football, and the way it was taught and trained, guys were taught to use their face and their head to strike opponents, and as it turns out that's not the best way to do things," said Peters.
Noticing a flaw in this coaching, and having knowledge of both safe fighting techniques and safe football techniques, Peters was the perfect candidate to help young players learn the game and stay safe while doing it. Quickly Peters noticed that his technique was keeping players safe and it was making them better players at the same time.
To prove Peters had the key to unlocking football performance and safety, he demonstrated his knowledge at the University of Washington. For the first time in the school's history, the football team suffered no stingers or concussions on the offensive or defensive lines, while also producing the best rushing statistics in school history.
"The coaches loved it, the players loved it, and the medical staff loved it,'' said Peters. "I've never heard of all groups agreeing on one thing."
Prestige football organizations quickly noticed Peters' ability to keep players on the field and keep them performing at a high level. It would not be long before teams in the National Football League would be interested in hiring Peters.
"I got hired by NFL teams because safety alone does not work at the highest levels of football," said Peters. "If you're saying it's safer, but it doesn't display, it's not going to win and compete, no one's going to adopt it."
Peters coaching and instruction displayed phenomenal results, and these results helped him to meet legendary NFL offensive line coach Bill Callahan. Callahan is currently the offensive line coach for the Cleveland Browns but has also served previously as the interim head coach of the Washington Football Team along with numerous stops on the way including Nebraska and the Oakland Raiders.
"I don't know if there's a better coach out there," said Peters. "He's a master offensive line coach and he asked me to join him in Cleveland and I couldn't pass up that opportunity."
Since February 2020, Peters has been the assistant offensive line coach for the Cleveland Browns. For 2021, just one season into Peters' arrival, the Browns have one of the strongest offensive lines and most effective rushing attacks in the league.
"Everybody's trying to win a Super Bowl, that's the goal, the ultimate goal is to win a World Championship of football and that's certainly our goal"' said Peters.
Peters and the Browns certainly have a great foundation for achieving their Super Bowl aspirations. However, Peters does have his own aspirations for his coaching career.
"I would love to coach at ASU one day," said Peters. "I think for now, I'm very happy with where I'm at with the Browns, it's an awesome experience and I do plan on being in this business for a long time."
(Michael Chirichillo is a senior working for Sun Devil Athletics in the Public Relations Lab at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. He is scheduled to graduate in December 2021.)