After building himself into an All-Pro cornerback with the Dolphins, the veteran Sam Madison joined the Giants in 2006 and took on a mentoring role to a young secondary that eventually helped the team win a title.
Now he's done it again.
The former four-time Pro Bowler is back in South Florida as coach of the Davie Broncos, who last year won the American Youth Football League championship. They also knocked off an undefeated team in the process, something Madison knows all about. He and the Giants took down the perfect Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.
"Coming to New York was the best thing for me, and I knew I still could play," Madison said. "I took those young guys under my wing, I worked with them in the offseason, I worked with them during training camp, I worked every single day, and I wanted to instill it in those other guys and that's what got us over the hump and got us to the ultimate goal we wanted. And that was the Super Bowl."
While he wasn't wearing a whistle just yet, Madison's football smarts and infectious personality made him another coach on the field in his playing days. And that's largely because of what he learned from two football icons of the Miami area, where the Giants look to keep their playoff hunt alive this Monday night against the Dolphins.
After starring as a wide receiver and defensive back at Florida A&M High School, Madison went on to play at the University of Louisville. The Cardinals were led at the time by Howard Schnellenberger, who previously won the national championship in 1983 as head coach of the Miami Hurricanes.
"I always had a knack for catching the ball and doing stuff on offense," said Madison, who went on to record 38 interceptions in his NFL career. "I was brought to Louisville as a wide receiver, so he used me on both sides of the ball. So I made some plays. I caught touchdowns. I caught big plays. That was the beginning of Sam Madison transforming into a pretty good corner."
That led the Dolphins to select Madison in the second round of the 1997 NFL Draft. He would be coached by two-time Super Bowl champion Jimmy Johnson, who also won a national title at Miami in 1987.
"It just was really special, being from Florida, coming down here to beautiful South Florida -- welcome to paradise," said Madison, who still serves as an analyst and on-air personality for the Dolphins. "It just felt really good and football kept me on that straight path because I wanted to be good."
Now he's passing down the same goals to his youth.
"What it really is, is his passion for the kids," former NFL linebacker Anthony Harris said. "I played with him for the Dolphins for a number of years, and as a friend of mine, I wouldn't coach with any other guy because his passion for the kids is what it is. It's not about the wins and losses. It's about bettering these young men."
"He just brought a lot of energy and inspiration to our kids," said Mary Hedrick, a football mom. "And he is very strict with the boys, not just with football but in life, with school, with everything. He's amazing. The kids love him -- the way he yells at them, they still love him."