In 2010, former third-round draft pick Glen Coffee surprised football fans by announcing his retirement from the San Francisco 49ers at the age of 23. Three years later, Coffee will graduate from the U.S. Army’s Airborne School.
Coffee enlisted in the U.S. Army on Feb. 4 and quickly found himself at the fabled Airborne School at Fort Benning in Georgia, AL.com reports. On Thursday, he completed the last of five required jumps, earning the right to graduate from Airbone School and continue his military career. Ultimately, he hopes to enroll at Fort Bragg in North Carolina and become a member of the U.S. Army Special Forces.
“I've always considered myself a warrior, somebody who would fight for what he believed in,” Coffee told AL.com. “It hit me like, ‘What do you think the military does, and what do you think the military is full of? Warriors.
“All of a sudden, I had this respect for the military, and I just realized that there is no America without the men and women who serve this country. I figured that if I’m able, the Lord’s blessed me with an able body while I’m young to get out there and get dirty."
A standout at the University of Alabama, Coffee was selected in the third round of the 2009 NFL Draft by San Francisco. By the end of his rookie season, Coffee had established himself as a serviceable running back, starting two games and setting himself up for an increased workload in 2010.
Instead, the 23-year-old decided that a career as a football star simply wasn’t for him. He decided to retire from the NFL, leaving the 49ers -- and millions of dollars -- on the table in the process.
At the time, Coffee provided a vague, yet honest explanation of his decision to retire. “Actually, when I look back, I feel I never should have entered the draft in the first place. Football was no longer my dream,” he told the Sacramento Bee. “I was basically wasting the [49ers’] time.”
Nowadays, Coffee has no regrets about leaving his football career behind and looks forward to continuing his military career as a member of the U.S. Army’s Special Forces. “I expect it to be the hardest thing I've done in my life physically and mentally,” Coffee told AL.com. “But I'm looking forward to the challenge.”