(As I continue to battle intermittent power outages — Shout-out to Ohio Edison: “Thanks, yo!!!!” — here’s a press release from Cal announcing the additions of two ex-NFLers to Jeff Tedford’s staff.)
(I would’ve assumed the former Cincinnati Bengals quarterback would be working with the Bear defensive backs as he proved very adept at hitting those in stride during his NFL “career”, but I was wrong.)
Former NFL players Akili Smith and Ronnie Bradford have joined the Cal football staff as administrative assistants. Smith will serve in his role for the team’s offensive coaching staff, while Bradford will work with the coaches on the defensive side of the ball.
“We’re pleased to have both Akili and Ronnie join our support staff,” said head coach Jeff Tedford. “Both of these guys have been around football their entire lives and will be tremendous assets to our program.”
Smith, who has spent the past two seasons as the quarterbacks coach at Grossmont College in San Diego, was selected by Cincinnati as the third overall pick in the first round of the 1999 NFL Draft and played four seasons with the Bengals (1999-2002). He attended training camp with the Packers (2003) and Buccaneers (2005) before finishing his professional football playing career with the Frankfurt Galaxy of NFL Europe (2005) and Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League (2007). Smith played his collegiate football at Oregon from 1997-98 when Tedford was the Ducks’ offensive coordinator. He was the Pac-10’s Offensive Player of the Year as a senior when he set Oregon’s single-season passing record with 3,763 yards and also threw for 32 touchdowns.
“It’s a definite blessing to be able to come to Cal and be a member of this staff,” said Smith. “I wanted to get into coaching because of my passion for the game. There’s so much more out there for me as far as football is concerned. I want to help these kids reach their dreams and doing whatever it takes to do that. I’m thankful that coach Tedford gave me the opportunity to start my coaching career at the Division I level here at Cal.”
Bradford was a defensive assistant with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2009 under Cal defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast. He was previously with the Denver Broncos for six seasons from 2003-08, where he served in a variety of capacities both on defense and special teams. In his final year in Denver in 2008, Bradford coached the team’s defensive backs, mentoring a group that featured nine-time Pro Bowl and three-time first-team All-Pro selection CB Champ Bailey, and two-time Pro Bowl selection Dré Bly. He spent the 2004-06 campaigns as Denver’s special teams coach and was the club’s assistant special teams coach in 2003. Over that four-year span, the Broncos qualified for the postseason on three different occasions, including the 2005 campaign when Denver reached the AFC Championship Game. During that same four-year time frame, PK Jason Elam ranked third in the NFL in both made FGs (107) and points scored (479).
Bradford also played for 10 seasons in the NFL with Denver (1993-95), Arizona (1996), Atlanta (1997-2001) and Minnesota (2002). He was a member of the Falcons’ squad that claimed the 1998 NFC title and advanced to Super Bowl XXXIII, where he registered an interception off Broncos’ QB John Elway. Bradford played in 133 regular season NFL games, accumulating 523 tackles, 13 interceptions for 65 yards with one TD, 2.0 sacks (-19 yards), 70 passes defended, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. He was a two-year starter and four-year letterwinner in college at Colorado and was a first-team All-Big 8 selection as a senior in 1992. As a sophomore, he helped guide the Buffaloes to an appearance in the National Championship Game vs. Notre Dame, where he blocked a PAT attempt in the final minutes to preserve a 10-9 victory at the Orange Bowl.
“This is going to be my first experience as a member of a football staff at the college level, and I’m excited to be here,” said Bradford. “There are so many different aspects of the college game compared to the NFL game. You get a chance to kind of mold the kids at this level, not just athletically but academically, and prepare them for the next step in life. That’s what I’m really looking forward to.”
“I’m also looking forward to working for coach Tedford,” added Bradford. “He has brought back the tradition of winning to Cal football that I’m sure a number of Bay Area alumni and fans have come to appreciate.”