When Anthony Weaver played for the Ravens, he wasn't thinking about becoming a coach one day.
However, his thinking changed as he matured. During Weaver's four seasons (2002-2005) as a Ravens defensive end, the seeds were planted for his post-playing career. Baltimore's new Run Game Coordinator/Defensive Line Coach has a deep love for football, and he also has great respect for the Ravens organization. Now after nine years of NFL coaching experience with four different organizations, Weaver is back in Baltimore and he couldn't be happier.
"When you think about first class organizations in this league, Baltimore is second to none," Weaver said. "When I played here, I was a rookie. It was the only NFL organization I knew. Now having been around to a lot of other places, you come to realize just how special this place is. To have the opportunity to come back and be a part of it once again, it just means so much to me. I'm pumped."
A second-round pick out of Notre Dame in 2002, Weaver was a four-year starter for Baltimore, a high-energy player with a strong work ethic. During that time, he saw the long hours that coaches spent studying film and working on game plans. He recalls seeing former Defensive Coordinator Rex Ryan sleeping at the practice facility during the week, getting ready for the next opponent. At first, Weaver wasn't sure he wanted that life once his playing days ended. But as he got older, he realized that becoming a coach was in his blood.
"I knew the work that was involved in getting us to Sunday," Weaver said. "I knew how much they (coaches) put into it. Back then, at 21, I didn't know that I was willing to do that. As I matured and got older, I realized that I can. I love it too much. I love the grind of it, I love the struggle, the camaraderie. I love the teamwork. When you bring all those things together and you've got the right group of people doing it, you have an opportunity to do something really special.
"My time here was incredibly impactful on my coaching career. Rex Ryan, who obviously was the D-line coach for three years when I played here and then defensive coordinator my last year, was a tremendous influence on me. There's still so much of his teaching and approach to the game that I try to impart on my players as well. It's still kind of weird to me now to be working with (Inside Linebackers Coach) Rob Ryan and seeing him, and them being twins. Every once in awhile I'm like, 'Is that Rex? No, it's Rob.'"
Weaver spent the past five seasons on the Houston Texans coaching staff, including last year when he was their defensive coordinator. As a coach, Weaver brings the same intensity he had as a player. Stopping opponents from running the football has always been a priority for him, and he looks forward to coaching defensive linemen he has long admired like Calais Campbell and Brandon Williams.
"To me, the toughness of a football team is measured by your ability to run the ball when you're on offense, and then your ability to stop the run when you're on defense," Weaver said. "When you think about toughness and football teams, the first team that should come to your mind in the National Football League is the Baltimore Ravens. We are determined and impassioned to go out there and make teams one-dimensional. You're not going to come here and push us around and try to bully us. We're the bullies, you better put the ball in the air.
"You talk about Brandon Williams, Calais Campbell, these are all players that from the outside looking in, I've always had a tremendous amount of respect for. Just their effort, their tenacity. You can just tell they love the game, and you can see it every single snap they play."
Having made the playoffs the past three seasons, the Ravens are a team with championship aspirations, and Weaver wants to be part of something special. He loves being back with the Ravens, and now Weaver wants to help them get back to the Super Bowl.
"I dream about that opportunity of holding that Lombardi (Trophy) like they've done twice before here, just one time in my career," Weaver said. "This is 17 years in this league now. If I can hold that thing up one time, I'm going to poke this chest out just a little bit more."