As part of his “Memory Lane Series”, Editor George Carmi will highlight Redskin legends whose legacies may have been forgotten or neglected over the years. These player spotlights are not necessarily limited to Super Bowl champions, but rather focuses on player contributions who will forever live in Redskin lore. Hopefully you enjoy the series.
Monte Coleman will forever be known as a Redskin. But his legacy has been overlooked due to his more famous teammates’ star power and accolades. The outside linebacker was a major component of the Redskins success and unlikely dynasty of the 80’s and 90’s. But no one ever talks about him.
In fact, his 16 years in the Burgundy and Gold is only surpassed by Darrell Green. And up until 1997, he played the most games in a Redskins uniform with 215.
Due to this, Coleman will forever be known as one of the greatest Redskins of all-time. It became official in 2002, when he stood at mid-field during the last home game as one of the “70 Greatest Redskins.” It was cemented when his nameplate was added to the Ring of Fame in 2015.
He played in four Super Bowls, winning three, as a member of the team. He currently ranks fourth in sacks for the Redskins franchise, with 56.5.
Path to the NFL
Monte was selected in the 1979 NFL Draft, and was widely considered a project. He was taken in the 11th round (out of 12), and was chosen with the 289th pick.
Coming out of Central Arkansas he was known as a workout warrior, and spent his first three years as a safety, before converting to linebacker. He left the HBCU as the university’s record holder in interceptions with 22.
At 6-3, and 210 pounds, Coleman was caught between positions. He was rather large for a defensive back in that era, but undersized to play linebacker. What was undeniable was his freak athleticism and chiseled physique. He was measured as having only six-percent body fat and could run 4.4 40-yard dash. He was a sight to see.
Although he spent a majority of his college career as a defensive back, the forward-thinking Bobby Beathard believed that Coleman had the frame to blossom into an NFL linebacker. And boy was he right. By the time Coleman became a contributor to Washington, he bulked up to 240 pounds.
Coleman was an early contributor to the team, as he was slotted as the starting outside linebacker as a rookie. He was paired with two other rookies that year, middle linebacker Neal Olkewicz and fellow outside linebacker Rich Milot. They were affectionately referred to as the “Three Musketeers” by the Redskins faithful.
Coleman is unique in the fact that he is the only Redskin player to take part of the team across the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s. A time of success and dominance for the franchise.
He began his career under coach Jack Pardee for his first two seasons. But then a young upstart, named Joe Jackson Gibbs was pegged as the coach of the team in 1981. Over the next 12 seasons, Coleman was a major contributor for a team who made four Super Bowl Runs including three successful NFL Championships. The Redskins made the playoffs in eight of those 12 years.
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Coleman shined under Gibbs and was regarded as one of the better coverage linebackers of his era. His 17 career interceptions ranks top-20 in Redskins history and second among linebackers behind only Chris Hanburger (19). At the time of his retirement, he ended his career with 43.5 sacks, ranking fourth all-time for the team.
Editor’s note: The NFL “Sack” didn’t officially become a statistic until 1982. If you take that into account, Coleman truly had 56.5 sacks.
Altogether, Coleman played in 215 games in the Burgundy and Gold. This was the high watermark for the team, until Darrell Green surpassed him in 1997. Monte ended his Redskins career with 56.5 Sacks, 17 interceptions (three returned for touchdowns), 15 fumble recoveries and 1,009 tackles (653 solo).
He spent his entire career with the Redskins organization before retiring in 1994 at the age of 37. He is only one of three Redskins players to log 16 years for the organization. He is tied with Sammy Baugh (16) and surpassed only by Darrell Green (20).
Where is Coleman Now?
Post-NFL, Coleman began coaching in his home state of Arkansas. He coached at the college level at the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff campus and was part of the team from 2003-2017. Starting off as the linebacker coach 2003, his role increased to defensive coordinator in 2006. He became head coach in 2008 and won the SWAC title in 2012.
He currently lives in Pine Bluff, Arkansas with his wife and three kids. One of whom, plays for the Los Angeles Chargers, Kyle Coleman.
Monte passes the time by reminiscing on his football accomplishments and is an avid outdoors-man who enjoys to fish.
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