Frank Emanuel retired from playing football 35 years ago and from coaching it more than two decades ago, but as usual this fall he'll don a headset and throw in his two cents' worth from an upstairs booth while his son, Brian, paces the sideline as offensive line coach for Hillsborough High in Tampa. "I give them a little input," says Emanuel, a first-team All-America linebacker at Tennessee in 1965 who will be enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame this weekend.
Emanuel, 62, is a good source of football advice. Not only did he play in the NFL and coach for 12 years in college and the pros, but he also knows firsthand that a wise suggestion can save a player's career. After the Volunteers lost 7-0 to intrastate rival Vanderbilt in the final game of the 1964 season, Emanuel and two teammates decided to drown their sorrows at a Knoxville hangout. But the evening turned disastrous when the players got into a fight with a group of locals who were giving him a hard time about the defeat. Before he knew it, Emanuel, then a junior, was off the team and without a scholarship.
Too embarrassed to tell his parents back in Newport News, Va., he hitchhiked to Florida, hoping to latch on with a semipro team. Fortunately, a Tennessee alum persuaded him to return to Knoxville and win back coach Doug Dickey's trust. Emanuel did, working at an aluminum company to get by until Dickey agreed to reinstate his scholarship. Emanuel had a dominant senior season that included a 26-tackle game against Kentucky. He made SI's cover after the Miami Dolphins, an AFL expansion team, won a bidding war with the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles for his services, giving him a five-year, $400,000 contract.
Emanuel was Miami's rookie of the year in 1966 and led the team in tackles in 1968. He tore cartilage in his right knee during the '69 season, however, and was cut early in '70. After a half season with the New Orleans Saints, he moved into coaching.
In 1984 Emanuel entered the world of financial planning. He is now a senior agent for Principal Financial Group in Tampa, recommending insurance products and providing retirement advice. "My background has helped me," says Emanuel, who lost his first wife, Carolyn, to a rare lung disease and has been married to his second wife, Linda, since July 2004. "I grew up in a poor family. I never had much, but I knew it was wise to put a little away."
If the advice he gives is as sound as the advice he once received, his clients should do just fine. --Brian MacPherson