LaGrange, Georgia is about 60 miles southwest of Atlanta, Georgia. The population of the city is less than 30,000. However, it is home to a remarkable young man that turned out to be great. Tyrone Poole attended LaGrange High School. He was an All-American in football and track. He went on to attend Fort Valley State College, again being a standout in both sports. It was his football ability that caught the attention of the Carolina Panthers. They drafted him in the first round of the NFL with the 22nd pick, making him the first defensive back taken in 1995. He would start 12 of his 14 seasons with the Panthers, Indianapolis Colts, Denver Broncos, New England Patriots, Oakland Raiders, and Tennessee Titans. His biggest accomplishments came with the Patriots, winning back-to-back Super Bowls (XXXVIII & XXXIX) under Coach Bill Belichick. It was a pleasure to talk with him recently.
Stenson: You started at LaGrange High School playing football, so you are a “Granger”.
Poole: To die! LOL. Back when I was coming thru, they said it had to be something in the water. It was just pumping out athletes, going to D I schools and the pros. And we still have people going to the pros. I did football and track, and a little wrestling. But after that losing weight and giving up your meal card, I couldn’t do all that. I got to eat. Then they try and get you to drop 20 pounds. Now they are more sensitive to health issues and not as extreme as they use to be when I was coming thru high school.
Stenson: Then after that you went to Fort Valley State. What made you go to Fort Valley State?
Poole: THE Fort Valley State. I did football and track. I actually quit football my senior year, halfway during the season. I came to practice late and I didn’t tell the coach the teacher made me stay after. The coach screams at me, and at the time I didn’t know he was looking at me as a leader. I thought he was just trying to get on me and my pride stepped up. I took it the wrong way and walked off the field. Because I was a starter I thought he was going to call me back. An alumnus of Fort Valley ask me where I was going to college. I told her I don’t know. She told me to go take the admissions test for Fort Valley. That’s where I went and did my magic.
Stenson: What is the Patriot Way?
Poole: I came up with the acronym that I use when I go to speak at different corporations, institution, and schools – SUT. They SPEAK the same language. They UNDERSTAND the same language. They TALK the same language. If you get outside of that system and speaking and understanding that same language then you gone. When they bring in the right pieces it’s off the charts. In 2007 when they brought in Randy Moss with Wes Welker. He was cutting them up in the inside and Randy was stretching the field. When I was there, we had the best defense. That’s what people have said. It was myself at corner, Ty Law at the other corner. Rodney Harrison was at safety. Eugene Wilson at free safety, Asante Samuel was coming in. That was one of the best secondaries because Bill said we are going to play a lot of man-to-man. Willie McGinest, Mike Graybill, and Tedy Bruschi was blitzing. We had big Ted Washington who always commanded two blocks. If Ted Washington walked thru this door right now, he would have to turn sideways. LOL. Richard Seymour, we had a defense.
Stenson: Who were some of the tougher wide receivers to cover?
Poole: Hands down, Jerry Rice. What made him so tough, he did everything, whether he was getting the ball or not. He ran every route full speed. You didn’t know. You covering the guy and it’s a run. You relax and it’s a pass. The quickest receiver was Andre Rison. He give you that two-step off the line and he gone.
What are his thoughts about going to a smaller school? What will it take for track and field to be more prominent in the U.S.? Will the Cleveland Cavaliers make the NBA Finals? What does Belichick do before a game that no one talks about? Go to DNASportsTalk.com under “Showtime” and click on February 12, 2018.
Poole has been inducted into the Division II Football Hall of Fame and the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) Hall of Fame. Although he has retired from the gridiron, his impact is still felt. I would venture to say, it is even more outstanding now. His Tyrone Poole 38 Foundation focuses on Education, Fitness, and Humanitarianism. He tries to help youths and adults achieve the most out of their lives. His book, The Ultimate Success in the Game of Life, goes into more details on that. Poole is definitely giving back more off the field then he did on the field, which speaks volumes for a cornerback. The city of LaGrange can be proud of their own.