Identifying with Carlton Bailey is a pleasurable experience for the "old" coach -- a man who truly believed in him yet insisted passing grades on the football field and in the classroom could only be achieved if he was willing to exert himself to the maximum.
The coaching cliche refers to "paying the price," which is interpreted as good old-fashioned hard work. That's what George Goudy, coach and English teacher at Woodlawn High School, asked of Carlton Bailey.
A challenge from a teacher-coach to a student-athlete. And now, 10 years later, Goudy revels in what Bailey has accomplished. And along with him, so does all of Woodlawn High . . . faculty, students and alumni.
Bailey will be starting in the Super Bowl for the Buffalo Bills against the Washington Redskins. It was his interception of a tipped pass against the Denver Broncos that turned into a touchdown and led to victory in the conference championship. Otherwise, for Bailey and the Bills, they'd be commiserating with each other and not contemplating Super Bowl success.
For Goudy, as it would be with any teacher or coach, it's an exciting and satisfying occurrence to see Bailey gaining so much acclaim. They were together for three years, including a summer football camp at Western Maryland College.
There was no magic formula for Bailey. "He committed himself to making an all-out effort, of handling his schoolwork and football assignments with the same kind of determination and perseverance," recalled Goudy.
"I also had him in English class and showed him no mercy. Just because I had him on the football team didn't mean I was going to give him a soft ride in the classroom. Academics didn't come easy for him. He had to work and I respected that particular quality."
But in his senior year, Bailey lifted his grades to "B" average respectability along with his SAT scores. Maryland, Rutgers, Syracuse, North Carolina and other major colleges and universities came calling.
An assistant coach at North Carolina, Larry Marmie, who went on to become head coach at Arizona State, liked everything about Bailey and convinced him to enroll. In football, he played three varsity seasons as a nose tackle and went on to be invited to the Blue-Gray and East-West college all-star games.
The Bills picked him on the ninth round in the 1988 draft and used him on special teams and as a linebacker. One of Goudy's proudest moments came when Bailey came back for one of his frequent visits to Woodlawn to offer a personal progress report.
"Mr. Goudy," the happy youngster said, "I want you to know I graduated and if my time in pro football only lasts two minutes there's no way anyone can take my degree away from me." Bailey had gone to summer school each year at Carolina and, again, demonstrated a willingness to keep pounding away to reach a goal.
"I'm sure Dick Estes, his track coach, who helped him immensely, would tell you much the same about him," continued Goudy. He had set a Baltimore County record as a junior, posting a 37.3-second time for the 330-yard hurdles.
Woodlawn clocked him in 4.6 for the 40 in football uniform. There was a game against Thomas Johnson High of Frederick where he was used as both a defensive tackle and running back. "He wasn't a so-called star, but was our best prospect for the future," remembered Goudy.
Asked what Bailey means to him among the youngsters he has coached in the last 30 years, Goudy said, "You hear a lot of negative things about football, but Carlton was a plus. He has always been gracious and well-mannered, which is a credit to his parents. We've had other athletes go into various stages of life and do positive things. It always makes a coach and teacher feel good."
Last year, a call from Bailey to Goudy revealed a gift to the school's athletic department was on the way. "I bought you some stuff," was the way Carlton put it. What arrived was an assortment of equipment to be used in the Woodlawn weight room.
On visits to the school, he has talked to the athletes, individually and in groups, but not about sports. He insists passing grades are the foremost requirement and everything else is in second place.
Woodlawn High is so ecstatic over the accomplishments of Bailey it has something in mind that will bring further benefit. Come June graduation ceremonies, it wants Carlton to deliver the feature address.
Not as a scholar or athlete but merely to recite how far dedication and hard work can carry an individual if he or she doesn't give up the chase. All the way to the Super Bowl.