Chris Weinke is back in football where he belongs, feels most comfortable and believes he will make a difference with youth.
Weinke, Florida State's former Heisman Trophy winner, has landed at the renowned IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., where he has teamed with iconic NFL head coach/broadcaster John Madden to build the IMG Academy football program.
Weinke, 37, will work with Coach Madden to create the daily curriculum and oversee the development of the overall football program, a comprehensive training and teaching approach Weinke believes will help youth players succeed on and off the field.
This is the first coaching job for Weinke, who completed his final season in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers in 2007 and has searched for the perfect opportunity to return to the game.
Weinke says he has found it in sunny Florida.
"I am so excited because this is exactly where I want to be," Weinke told FanHouse. "I've been searching for the right fit and coaching opportunity to utilize my knowledge and playing experience. I've landed exactly where I've wanted to land, and that's teaching kids."
Fate can be funny.
Weinke actually trained at IMG before he was drafted in the fourth round by the Carolina Panthers in 2001. While attending the FSU-BYU football game in Provo, Utah last fall, Weinke bumped into Trevor Moawad, the Director of Athletic & Personal Development program who also serves as the mental conditioning consultant for head coach Jimbo Fisher and the Florida State Seminoles, and was encouraged to interview for the newly created position.
A face-to-face meeting followed with Madden, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Super Bowl winning coach, and Weinke was offered the job. He recently moved to Bradenton, and is currently living on the IMG campus.
The academy will initially consist of summer camps on IMG's 350-plus-acre facilities. Eventually the Academy will give consideration to fielding a full-time residency program -- much like what IMG does in tennis, golf, basketball, baseball and lacrosse.
"I think this is a perfect opportunity and a perfect partnership with IMG and IMG Academy," Madden said in a teleconference. "They have the facilities, they have everything ready, we just have to put a program in place."
Madden said he'll be involved indirectly in everything, but he won't be on the field coaching as much.
The Academy will launch KICKOFF WEEKEND on June 4-6, a three-day instructional football camp led by Weinke and assisted by a number of long-time NFL coaches including George Sefcik, Tom Pratt, Terry Shea and Jim Hanifan.
The camp will offer position specific instruction, classroom/film room analysis,recruiting education, strength and movement training and media coverage. The focus following will include position-specific, all-purpose weekly camps as well as an option for athletes to attend multiple weeks.
"As you know, there are football camps all over the country, run by all different types of coaches, but our primary goal is to emphasize the fundamentals and the proper techniques of the game which I think may have been lost in recent years," Weinke explained.
"Coach Madden strongly believes and has encouraged me to provide a fun and exciting environment. Players will receive the proper teaching and instruction but at the same time enjoy their experience.
"At the end of the day, to simplify it, this is about the total athlete development."
Weinke said the camp will stress the eight Athletic & Personal Development program disciplines -- physical conditioning, mental conditioning, nutrition, vision, communication, college advantage, life skills and athletic regeneration -- that will help them become bigger, stronger, faster and more confident on and off the field.
Classroom sessions will include video tutorials from Madden and Weinke, an impressive one-two punch.
Madden coached the Oakland Raiders to a Super Bowl title and finished with a coaching record of 112-39-7, while Weinke led the nation in passing as a senior in 2001 with 4,167 yards and became the oldest Heisman Trophy winner at age 28.
Weinke also helped lead the Seminoles to a national championship in 1999, this after returning to school following six years in the Toronto Blue Jays organization.
"For me, I feel like it's so important to be able to have some time with these kids, both on the field and in the classroom, to be able to teach them," Weinke said.
"It's easy to bring a bunch of kids in and put them out on the field and run them through drills. That's easy. That's what everybody does. It's a cash cow -- you might as well call it an ATM camp.
"What we are trying to do is to teach kids the game, the proper way to prepare and play the game to be a success on and off the field."