Bethea: Never ‘Board’ With Special Teams


Cornerback James Bethea has spent the last few months playing his heart out in Frankfurt, Germany on a quest of self-improvement. The former Cal cornerback and kick return specialist sees NFL – Europe as not only a chance to play, but also a chance to make an impression with coaches back in the states.

Bethea said: “When it comes down to it, we’re sent over here to get a job done. I mean obviously you want to win the games, but a big part of it is also getting some game film and developing your skills. Basically you’re playing for a job in August and September, and that’s what it comes to.”

While Bethea is one of NFL – Europe’s best cornerbacks, he would love to have an opportunity to do more.

“Definitely if I get an opportunity, I would love to return some kickoffs. That’s where I started off. I didn’t play any defense until I got to college. That’s one of my loves, so if I get an opportunity, great.”

Bethea thinks that ability and desire is important. “It definitely helps because I was told when I first got to the league; the more you can do the better.”

Special Teams is a big part of Bethea’s game, whether he is given a chance to return kicks or simply maintain a lane in the coverage unit. “I think a big part of it is what I can do for the team, and I definitely think I can help out on special teams. I think for the most part, what the coaches over here tell us is true. I’m not going to go to Washington and start at cornerback, so I have to find another way to help the team out, and I definitely think I can help on special teams”, Bethea told THN, adding “I’ve played on every special team unit here and I did in college. It’s a little tiring, but it’s a great way to get involved because with special teams, you can make a lot of plays that make a difference.”

While Bethea has spent most of his attention improving his game, he has also found time to explore Frankfurt’s attractions. “I’ve been mostly around Frankfurt; just doing little things like going to the museums and zoos”, Bethea said. “It’s definitely a nice place, it’s definitely different, but it’s a real nice place.”

The 5-10, 190-pound Bethea did not get the same opportunity in the brief time he spent with the Redskins prior to the end of the 2004 season. “I didn’t have much time; I was there for maybe six days, most of which was practice time”, Bethea said, but he did at least have a little free time. “I went to Dream because my girlfriend wanted to go to Puff Daddy’s club, so that was pretty cool. I did walk around the city a little bit. It was the first time that I had ever been to Washington. It was cool to see the stuff that you always see on television. That was pretty interesting.”

Bethea entered the league last season as an undrafted rookie free agent with the Oakland Raiders. Waived prior to the start of the season, the rookie caught on with the Detroit Lions practice squad where he remained until December of 2004 when he was released. Just 8 days later, the Washington Redskins signed Bethea to the practice squad, where he remained for the last few days of the regular season.

All of the moving from team to team and country to country can certainly take its toll on a young man trying to find his way in professional football. Luckily, Bethea has hobbies that allow him to leave reality for a while: surfing and snowboarding.

“I do it a lot. Whenever I get an opportunity to. Two days before I came here I went to Tahoe for a little snowboarding. Obviously I can’t do it as much as I like to because I’m busy and I’ve got to watch what I do. I don’t want to go out there and get hurt snowboarding.”

The main thing that keeps Bethea going is the love and respect he has for his Grandmother. “I obviously want to come and help the Redskins win, but besides all that a big part of what I do is for my Grandmother. She gave me so much; I’d like to have an opportunity to give back, to make sure she’s taken care of for the rest of her life. That’s a big part of my motivation on those days where it’s hard to get up early in the morning and go out there for those long days of training camp, you always got to have some kind of motivation. That’s my motivation.”

You have to pull for a guy like that.

Scott Hurrey is a Senior Writer for Scott can be contacted via email at

Edit: This blog was archived in May of 2016 from our original articles database.It was originally posted by Scott Hurrey

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