A Super Bowl champion has taken over a football team in Southern Illinois.
Anthony Hargrove, an eight-year NFL defensive lineman who was a member of the Super Bowl XLIV-champion New Orleans Saints, has been named the head football coach for the cooperative Christopher-Zeigler-Royalton. The team joins players from Illinois’ Christopher High and Zeigler-Royalton High.
According to The Southern Illinoisan, the former NFL defensive lineman accepted the position a few weeks ago. Former head coach Josh McCurren stepped down from the role but will remain on the coaching staff.
Hargrove, now 33, was drafted by the St. Louis Rams out of Georgia Tech in the third round of the 2004 NFL Draft. He also played for the Bills before moving on to New Orleans, where he had five sacks and a touchdown during the Super Bowl-winning season. His last regular-season action came with the Seattle Seahawks.
“After I left the Seattle Seahawks in 2011, you start to sense that your playing days are behind you,” Hargrove told the Southern Illinoisan. “I used that offseason as a time to kind of think about what I wanted to do. I took a job with a semi-pro football team in Florida, and that was my first coaching experience.”
In 2015, Marion (Ill.) defensive coordinator Jason Dunning opened the door for Hargrove to coach in Southern Illinois, as Hargrove helped coach the defense in a volunteer position.
Hargrove is engaged to Ami Kretz, a Christopher, Ill., native. He was named defensive coordinator for the C-Z-R Bearcats in 2016.
“Living in the community, one day you hope you can coach the local team,” Hargrove told the Southern Illinoisan. “I met with Josh McCurren a couple years ago, and he brought me out to speak to the team. About a year later, after I got done coaching at Marion, people realized I was in town, and they offered me the opportunity to help out on defense. I jumped at the opportunity, and plus my daughter goes to grade school in Christopher. To me, it seemed like the perfect option.”