Football training camps are just around the corner, but golf is on the mind of three head coaches ready to tee off in the American Century Championship, Lake Tahoe’s popular celebrity golf tournament.
Doug Pederson is the head coach of the Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles. He served as an assistant for both the Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs before landing his first head coaching gig in Philadelphia, taking his team to the top in just his second year.
“It’s going to be nice breaking away from the field and just taking my time on the course,” he said. “The one takeaway I had last year was to enjoy the moment and not put too much pressure on myself. So those are some adjustments I’ll make as the tournament goes along.”
Pederson graduated from and set quarterback records at Northeast Louisiana University before joining the Miami Dolphins as a rookie free agent in 1991. He played for four teams, including the Green Bay Packers, earning his first Super Bowl ring in 1996.
Known for his command in the locker room and creative play calling, Pederson sits at 100-1 odds at Lake Tahoe.
“I’d much rather be on the sideline than swinging a golf club,” he said. “With that being said, I am looking forward to relaxing and playing a fun round of golf.”
New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton joins Pederson with an impressive resume. Payton’s Saints were crowned Super Bowl XLIV champions following the 2009 season. New Orleans made a post season appearance this past season, tying their franchise record with seven Pro Bowlers. Payton, who won the 2006 AP NFL Coach of the Year honors, is a rookie competing in the ACC for the first time.
“I was really hesitant joining this year,” he said. “All I could think about was hitting a spectator in the head on the first hole. Now that I’m calmed down, it sounds like a great event with a great group of guys.”
Payton played college ball at Easter Illinois, playing a few professional games with the Chicago Bears. He sits at 50-1 odds in the tournament.
[pullquote]All I could think about was hitting a spectator in the head on the first hole.” — Sean Payton[/pullquote]“Nobody has seen how bad I play,” he said. “Those odds are a surprise in my eyes, but those will change next summer. I guarantee it.”
College coach Herm Edwards also will make an appearance at Tahoe. Edwards is the new head coach at Arizona Stage following a distinguished career as a head coach and TV broadcaster for ESPN. He’s served as coach for the New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs and as one of ESPN’s most prominent football commentators over the past decade.
“I love the camaraderie that goes on in this event,” he said. “You meet so many great people and that develops into friendships that last for years. That’s the thing that keeps me coming back.”
Edwards graduated from San Diego State with a degree in criminal justice. He stuck with the football route played for the Eagles, Atlanta Falcons and Los Angeles Rams. Edwards, who’s playing at Lake Tahoe for the 13th time, is at 2,000-1 odds.
“At this point, golf is just one part of this event,” he said. “I don’t play enough to be taken seriously. But that’s fine with me, I have a great time down here.”
The American Century Championship continues to attract record attendance numbers with a packed lineup of superstar athletes and entertainers. The 29th annual tournament runs July 13-15.
– Isaiah Burrows