Hunter back on Grey Cup safari

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:36 AM ET

When we last left Malvin Hunter he'd retired from football and tried his hand as a defensive line coach in 2001.

He went from being a player to coaching the players he was teammates with the year before. It wasn't entirely comfortable.

Now he's back as special teams coach.

"I left and went down and coached in the Arena Football League for the Detroit Fury with Mouse Davis and Rich Stubler. Mouse was the head coach and Rich the defensive co-ordinator.

"It was fun. I had a good time there. It was a good experience."

"I was living in Richmond, Virginia, and the University of Richmond of Div. 1AA offered me a job as assistant defensive line coach. I was there for a year and then decided to get out of football.

"My wife Jennifer and I were expecting our first child, Matthew. We've been married nine years in December. We met when we went to school together in Wisconsin. We're both from Chicago but we had to go to the University of Wisconsin to meet.

"With our first child coming, I was looking for a little stability. My wife has a job in Richmond which she loves. She works for a tobacco company with the youth smoking prevention department, to keep kids from smoking.

"I obtained my securities license and started working as a broker for American Express in Richmond. I was selling securities for a couple of years.

"All of a sudden, I received a call from Edmonton, curious as to whether I wanted to coach again. I talked to Hugh Campbell and coach (Danny) Maciocia a couple of times before a decision was made. They were just trying to decide what they wanted to do.

"I knew when I got out of coaching that it was still something I wanted to do. I didn't get out of coaching because I didn't like it or it wasn't what I wanted to do. But the call was good timing for us. We'd just had our second child, Michael, in October.

"It was out of the blue, though, especially for my wife. When they called they weren't sure about anything and it did give me some time to think if I wanted to do it. I knew how much I'd missed football. And my wife knew how much I wanted to do it. Once she told me she was on board and we'd miss just this season with us being apart ..."

It's not easy with two young kids, though, and Hunter is spending the season to see if there's going to be a way to make it work.

"They've already had one visit. They were up for the first home game this year. Hopefully, I'll be going home during bye weeks. They'll be up again in September.

"We're doing our best to make it work this year and we'll make a decision what to do with the family and location. At the end of the year, we have a decision to make. We'll sit down and discuss it, what kind of an impact it's had on them. And we'll go from there."

Whether he's here to coach for a single season or not, Hunter says he couldn't have picked a better time to come back.

"It's a great town and a great organization and I'm coming back with a very capable young head coach and a talented group. It's a great place to be right now."

As a player, he was Malvin 'Big Game' Hunter, who played eight seasons with the Eskimos. He was a three-time West division All-Star who played in two Grey Cup games and won a Grey Cup ring in 1993. In 1998 he was the Eskimos nominee for both the Most Outstanding Player and Most Outstanding Defensive Player CFL Awards. In a career cut short by injury, Hunter played 132 games and amassed 323 tackles and 66 sacks.

But he quit when he was 30.

"I was relatively young. But my body was at the point where my knees couldn't hold up."

He takes a look at the Eskimos front four were he used to play and marvels.

"I'm not just saying it because I'm working with them, but they're as good I've seen around this league. I don't go back as far as Dan Kepley, but this group is as good as any group I've seen."

As defensive line coach in his first tour of duty, he was coaching the guys he played with the year before.

"It was good from the point of view that there was familiarity. But I do feel a little more relaxed and at ease. Getting to know new people has been the toughest part, but it's going pretty well so far."

While he's helping out Dennis Winston with the defensive linemen, his main duties are as special teams coach.

"The special teams part is new to me here. I'm learning quite a bit as I go. Having had the opportunity to play special teams as long as I did, my adjustment is not as hard as I anticipated.

"When I was coaching here in 2001, Rick Campbell was coaching special teams but behind the scenes -- something maybe not a lot of people noticed -- I was handling substitutions.

"In the Arena League, I was the special teams coach. Even when I was assistant defensive line coach at the University of Richmond, I was in charge of the special teams float -- substitutions and injuries. Most of that stuff is not new to me."


Videos

Photos