If there is anyone who understands the peaks and valleys of the game of football it's Andre Goodman. The Greenville native signed with South Carolina in 1997, after an outstanding prep career as a wide receiver and defensive back at Eastside High School. He moved to defensive back during his redshirt season with the Gamecocks.
The valleys came the next two years as USC struggled to 1-10 and 0-11 records. The peaks came in 2000 and 2001 when he moved into a starting role at cornerback on USC's back-to-back Outback Bowl campaigns.
During his junior and senior seasons Goodman recorded 78 tackles, four interceptions and 19 pass breakups, and he was selected in the third round by Detroit in 2002 NFL Draft.
He endured another valley in his rookie season, as the Lions were in the midst of an NFL-record 23 straight road-game losses. He spent four seasons with Detroit and then signed with Miami in 2006, a Dolphins team that went 1-15.
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Goodman moved on to Denver in 2009. The Broncos started that season 6-0, but finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs. He was released by Denver in 2012.
“My whole career, college and pros, was peaks and valleys,” said Goodman, who is in his second year as USC's Director of Player Development, “but because you know that there are going to be changes when a team is struggling, it forced me to develop a mindset to go to work and get the best out of every day.
“It also had emotional ramifications, because it does become depressing, if you're going to beat your body up, you want to get some enjoyment out of the sport, and the only fun in football is winning. If you have a great day against a wide receiver and the teams loses, it stinks.”
After considering some offers, Goodman decided to embrace his retirement, and he moved his family back to Columbia. His interest in the Gamecocks led to a job offer.
“My kids are huge football fans, and I called the athletics department to see about getting season tickets, because I thought it was a way to bond and get closer to them. The guy I talked to said that they were looking for someone to replace Terry Cousin, and that my name was on the list. He said if you don't want to play golf or be at home every day, why don't you come interview for the job and see if it's something you would be interested in doing. I interviewed with (Deputy Athletics Director) Charles Waddell, and I realized it's something I would love to do.”
As Goodman has settled into the job, he views it as an opportunity to share his experiences as both a college and professional athlete.
“I am a resource in helping the kids balance the demands of athletics, academics, their personal lives, and their part in community outreach. That's what personal and professional development is, taking them from young men and grooming them into providers and leaders. Helping them develop in these areas is a great way for me to transition from professional sports.
“My motivation for being here is getting a kid who might be chasing a certain lifestyle to understand that a lifestyle is toxic, if the core value system and character is lacking, a kid might be making decisions based on what he thinks is healthy for him from a materialistic standpoint. More times than not, if a kid is making decisions from a materialistic standpoint, he is creating a bad example and is a bad leader because people will follow that example. It's more about becoming the man you have always wanted to be and having the values to do so.
“It really is about an individual’s overall well being, whether it's spiritual, mental, physical or emotional. All of that has to be centered to where a young man has a realistic perspective of the world we're living in. Yes, you can go have fun, as long as you balance it with the right kind of work. Understand, there is no way to be the greatest possible athlete you can be, if you aren't doing all the right things. You may have some level of success, but you will never be all you can be without balance in your life.
“It took a year for me to build a comfort level with a lot of the guys, for them to understand that I'm only here to help them succeed. You won't live the rest of your life from the way you do from 18 to 35, which are the peak years for most men. As athletes, from college through your professional careers, that's where the fun is, but after those years you have to have something else inside you, that allows you to be productive and enjoy the rest of your life.
“Sometimes I just walk through the training room and talk to them. Sometimes I get a call from a kid who just needs to vent his frustrations. I try not to be intrusive, and I'm not overbearing with them. I just let them know that my door is always open if they need my help in any way.”
Goodman and his wife, Shana, have four children – Fabian 12, Andre 10, Kennedy 8, Mason 2.