Running Back Soldier Trying to Return To Football


By Debbie Gregory.

Glen Coffee was a third-round pick in 2009. But after just one year in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers, he abruptly retired.

“I was doing what the world expected me to do,” Coffee said.  “What my mom expected me to do and what my friends expected me to do.  All I had known was football.  My whole schedule was built around football.”

His rookie season Coffee battled it out on the gridiron. But it was nothing compared to the battle going on inside. So to ease his mind he threw himself into the lavish lifestyle of a pro athlete.

“So I got the money and I started to splurge just a little bit to try to catch a feeling, to find some happiness. I know money didn’t buy happiness but I was going to try to find something. There had to be a reason everybody’s chasing money. I could never find it. I’d buy this or get this, or have this, and it didn’t mean anything.”

In his lone season as a pro football player, Coffee put up decent numbers as a backup for Frank Gore. He ran for 226 yards on 83 carries, and added 76 receiving yards over 11 receptions. He found the end zone once.

Fast-forward seven years; after serving for the last four years with the Sixth Battalion of the Army Rangers, Coffee has filed for reinstatement. He is trying to make an unprecedented and unlikely comeback.

Now, out of the Army, Coffee wants to see if he can play football again. After he came out of retirement on April 21, the 49ers promptly waived their rights to his contract, making the soon-to-be 30-year-old a free agent. With a running back-rich NFL draft, it remains to be seen how much interest Coffee will garner on the free-agent market.

One advantage he may have? Serving in the Army has resulted in Coffee being in better shape than when he played football.

“My cardio and endurance is definitely a lot better right now,” he said. “Because in football, you’re not really in shape. People think you’re in shape, but you’re really not. Not like that.”

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