By Julia Faron
Born into a football household, Keith Lyle has maintained a well-balanced football diet since the beginning of his life.
Lyle’s father, Garry, played for the Chicago Bears while he was a kid, and continued to work post-NFL at Xerox. Oblivious to the status that goes along with playing in the NFL, his father was the perfect example of what it takes to make it as a professional athlete, maintain a normal family life and find success after the NFL.
“Growing up, kids were always fascinated by my dad playing football,” Lyle said. “I figured that if my dad was normal like everyone else’s dad, if I just follow him and do as he does, I should be okay.”
After enjoying a successful NFL career with the Rams from 1994-2000, with brief stints with the Redskins and Chargers, Lyle and his wife Lauren married in 2010 and settled in Tampa Bay, Fla. After some down time, Lyle accepted an invitation to help out at a youth football practice for 7-year-old boys.
With one glimpse at their raw passion for football, he caught the coaching bug and was hooked.
“It reminded me of how I played at that age,” Lyle said. “You watch the progress that these kids make, and it really is fulfilling.”
After spending some time at that level, Lyle accepted the defensive coordinator position at Northside High School, alongside head coach Mike Alstott, former fullback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, in 2011.
“High school is the purest form of football because there’s no scholarship, there’s no paycheck, you’re just playing for your friends and your school,” Lyle said.
With his football genes and experiences at all levels, Lyle started writing a football playbook and included notes with various details and knowledge that he picked up along the way.
“Coaching youth football these last couple years, I’ve learned how to make football understandable and show the kids exactly how to protect themselves and all the fundamental techniques that you would need that most kids don’t get at that age,” Lyle said.
Those notes got him thinking and eventually piled up into something more substantial.
“As I started making a playbook, I just started writing notes and stories and all the sudden I just found myself consumed and ended up writing an entire book,” Lyle said.
The book discusses a wide variety of youth football topics, including coaching tips, formations, plays, anecdotes about Lyle’s career, instruction on how to practice the right way and all types of things that provide a different perspective of the game. The book is expected to be released this year and the title is forthcoming.
“If I can help out somebody and inspire them and teach them football through my experiences…there are so many things that I didn’t know as far as far football that I know now, and I just love giving that knowledge and that inspiration to the kids,” Lyle said.
Lyle’s experience in working with the rest of the coaching staff is that they are usually fathers that share a love for the game of football, but sometimes aren’t able to convey the fundamentals of the game that he had the privilege of acquiring throughout his career.
“The book will help anybody coach football the right way,” Lyle said. “It offers instruction on how to practice the right way, the drills and all those types of things, so you can utilize those two hours out there on the practice field.”
At home, Lyle welcomed a son, Peyton Jackson Lyle, into the next generation of the Lyle family football tradition on this past Valentine’s Day. He gushed about how unbelievable being a father has been. While watching his son grow and taking on all the small daily fatherly duties that go into caring for a newborn.
“It’s awesome,” Lyle said. “Life after football is good. I still have love for the Rams, I watch them, I brag about them - it’s fun.”
Lyle was quick to recall some of his favorite memories as a Ram.
One of his favorite wins came during his rookie season in 1994 when the Rams traveled to Kansas City to take on Joe Montana and the Chiefs.
“I was playing safety and one of their veteran receivers Willie Davis went on a deep route and Joe Montana attacked me – the rookie – and I intercepted him in KC, in a packed house,” Lyle said. “At the time, I thought Joe Montana was the greatest quarterback ever, so as a rookie intercepting him and shutting him out for the first and only time in his career was unbelievable. It was a dream come true.”
As with most Rams’ of the Greatest Show on Turf era, the 1999 season had its fair share of lasting memories.
“The year we won the Super Bowl in 1999, I got drafted in ‘94 and we lost to the 49ers five straight years,” Lyle said. “To beat them early in the season - convincingly - was one of the best feelings. To finally get over the hump of beating the 49ers and then going to the Super Bowl – that was awesome.”
Though Lyle’s playing days are over, he hopes to influence the game through coaching and passing on his lifetime of acquired football knowledge through his book. So, whether it’s from – he hopes – a third generation of Lyle pro football players in his son or one of his high school players, football has not heard the last of Keith Lyle.