Thirty-plus years ago, when newly-hired Arizona Cardinals strength and conditioning coach Buddy Morris was at the University of Pittsburgh, he had some future legends under his tutelage — Dan Marino and Roger Kingdom.
The former, of course, went on to play in 17 seasons with the Miami Dolphins, going to nine Pro Bowls and, eventually, to Canton, where he was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The latter split from the field and went to Los Angeles and Seoul, entering into Olympic fame by grabbing gold medals at both the 1984 and 1988 Summer Olympics in the 110 meter hurdles.
And now, with his spikes long hung up at 51, Kingdom once again sits underneath Morris, this time as a part of his staff with the Cardinals.
The man who, at 19, caught passes from Marino as a Panther has turned his attention to a flock of Cardinals players, and two receivers, in particular — Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd.
“I’m really looking forward to working with them,” Kingdom told the Doug and Wolf show Wednesday on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.
“I’d like to see the success I can get out of Michael and Larry, because a lot of people say, ‘You can’t teach speed.’ A lot of people say that they’re not going to get any faster, but I’m a firm believer that you can and I already have seen some improvement in these young men.”
Fitzgerald, 31, would have been excited if he was tuned in to the interview. Not only did Kingdom repeatedly refer to him as a “young man,” but he was more than confident that he could add something to his step.
“No — Larry doesn’t have blazing speed right now, but when I look at him and what he can do, both of these young men can get so much better,” he went on.
In addition to the Cardinals’ marquee wide outs, Kingdom made mention of his excitement to get a look at some of the team’s newly-drafted players. One in particular, receiver John Brown, recorded the third fastest 40-yard dash time at the NFL Combine, with a 4.34.
Believe it or not, Kingdom believes Brown, too, can get even faster.
“You will see some improvement in those younger guys,” he said.
Cardinals Organized Team Activities (OTAs) begin Tuesday, May 20 and Morris, Kingdom and company will be present to run players through speed-enhancing drills.