“Put in da fullback!” (part 2): Former PSU FB Sam Gash on 22 years in NFL, memory loss and a lasting friendship with Bill Parcells
Sam Gash, here in his last NFL job as running backs coach with the Green Bay Packers (2014-16), acknowledges suffering from memory loss after a 12-year NFL career as a fullback with the Patriots, Bills and Ravens (1992-2003).
In the final segment of a 2-part interview with former Penn State fullback Sam Gash, the former All-Pro fullback and assistant coach speaks frankly about the toll that the position and the way he played football has taken on his mind and body. Playing a dozen years in the NFL at one of the most punishing positions in football has left damage not even Gash can fully calibrate.
Still, he not only believes in the fullback position strategically but in a profound sense that it embodies the core of the game. And as the father of seven children – six of them boys and five still in the house – he still believes football can be played safely with recent rule changes and emphasis on avoiding use of the head as a blunt-force weapon.
In the 1990s and 2000s, Sam Gash played the way fullbacks did then. He led with his head. Once he was told by an NFL assistant who played fullback himself (he prefers not to name him) that “the head is the hardest part of the body, so use it.”
Today, two years after being fired in his last NFL job as running backs coach with the Green Bay Packers, Gash remembers fondly his Penn State days and easily ticks off the names of his roommates of three decades ago – quarterback Lance Lonergan and offensive lineman Ed Monaghan:
“Now, I can tell you stuff like that. But I can’t tell you one single play that I ever played, there or in the pros. I don’t remember any specifics.”
Sam Gash (33) with Patriots backfield members in the early ’90s. He was drafted by them in the 8th round in 1992.