Real Talk Season 2 with QBV #8: Cory Procter: Former NFL offensive Linemen!
Updated: Dec 19, 2020
On this week's episode of Real Talk with QBV we were lucky enough to sit and talk with Cory Procter! He's a former NFL offensive linemen, who spent most of his playing career with the Dallas Cowboys but has also spent time in Detroit and Miami. Procter started 44 games for the Cowboys and 10 for the Dolphins where he finished his career.
He dives into what it was like being an undrafted free agent and finally being a part of an NFL team. As well as what it was like starting as a freshman at Montana, what put him above the other offensive linemen, and also what his decision process was when picking a college out of high school.
How was your experience at Montana? How was it winning a National Championship?
"Montana was awesome, when I was recruited out of high school I had a lot of Pac Ten interest. So I had an early offer from BYU and a lot from the west side states because I was from Washington state. It was really good, I ended up having my knee scooped during my season senior year, a lot of that D1 interest fell off and all the big sky teams came in."
"That’s why I choose Montana, I didn’t intend on going there, I was trying to hold out for the bigger schools, hoping that they would pick me up. But Montana was the best place that I could have ever gone to. There’s not a lot of places you can go and be competitive, have a shot to win the title let alone being able to win your conference just about every year. Also to have the crowd support that they have there and then have a good history with that school of opportunity for guys to go onto the next level if they can make it, so it ended up being one of the best places ever."
"Crazy crowds and make lifelong friends there and when we won the national title my freshman year, 2001, that was awesome I started like 5 games that year and played a little in every game. Then senior year we lost in the finals, which sucked because we were on fire heading into that game. I think it was James Maddison who just got their running game going and we didn’t see the field the second half of the game."
"But I’ll tell you what, we won a lot of games there, I don’t know their win percentage right now but when I was there it was about 92 percent since opening that stadium. You don’t get that everywhere in the county so it’s a pretty special place. I was excited to head back for Homecoming this year but Covid happened and rearranged those plans but now they hopefully playing in the spring so maybe get to a game then."
What was it like to start as a freshman for Montana? What are some things that gave you an edge to go in and start right away?
"Coming in I have always been a coachable guy, coaches were like father figures to me coming from a split family. So it was my ability to be coached, I have a work ethic that was really fostered from that since they were like a father figure to me. Every time a coach game me a little positive self-reinforcement that just reinforced my work habits. So that was a big deal to me, so I become this insane worker and they loved that."
"Just because I listen to you as a coach they loved me even more. That was a huge piece for me personally but besides that my best O- Line coach that I ever had playing the game of football chad, he was there and now he’s been with a couple of different teams since I been gone but he’s back at Montana now."
"The guy is amazing, there’s a lot of coaches that say they are big on technique but are actually full of themselves and have no idea what they are talking about. Well, this guy actually did this, he was like a master and when you combine technology with attitude and a coach that gives a damn about you, you got the juice to be successful."
"That’s what that guy was to me and he got on my ass a lot but he also cared a lot. That’s what really gave him the ability to be on everyone’s ass all the time but especially mine coming in a new place. That’s what made me successful. I think a lot of young guys kept that in mind that this is an Investment of myself and my time and my relationships with people and if I get that. You seem like a guy that I want to be coached by and I can submit to in that relationship that’s a huge deal."
What is it like when being a free agent in the NFL?
"Man, that was a weird experience for me, they projected me or my agent projected me to go In the 5th round but obviously that didn’t happen, and the same thing my agents become like my coach in the transition. In the end, it was between Detroit, Dallas, and Atlanta that they thought we’re good choices who wanted to bring me in. At the time Dallas drafted a lineman in the 6th round, Rob. Atlanta hadn’t and Detroit didn’t either but Detroit looks like a more attractive place to make the team."
"So we choose there, I’ll tell you what, I was one of those guys who needed a year of transition on the practice squad. I wasn’t a redshirt freshman in college so I was young coming in and I had to adjust to the game and adjust to different guys in general. I come basically an Abercrombie and Fitch highschool to Montana who had like 5 black guys on the team to Detroit. Now I’m the Minority all of a sudden, so that means I’m diving into a different culture, I’m diving into a different league and team, and a business around the game."
"That was a shock to me. I always was a guy who would shut up and show up to work. That’s why Matt our GM at the time, Steve was our head coach and Pat was the O-Lime coach, that’s why those guys liked me a lot because I might not have been where they wanted to be yet but I came Into work and didn’t say anything. So that time was great because where I would get overhyped and play a lot with my feet in cement, it was time for me to relax and get Accustom to the place where I could play football again and not be overhyped about the situation."
"That ended up being great, we ended up totally sucking as a football team and in the last 5 games of the season Dallas picks me up and I went from a handful of guys in the weight room all the time to the whole team in Dallas. This was way more my kind of group of guys and I think that came from Parcells, he was recruiting this type of guy and he also made it mandatory."
"That changes the culture of everybody now at least I have a place where I came to the move from instead of a group of guys just hanging around the facility all day. I needed that time on practice squad because it gave me time to acclimate to everything."
How was the culture different when you played for the cowboys compared to the Lions or Dolphins?
"Culture is huge man especially in the workplace, you think of the closest relationships you have are formed from respect. So you guys meet for the first time, you show up to the weight room, coaches roomies or film room, or whatever it is. You start to get a feel for how this other guy is working. What’s happens eventually is like if you like that or your similar to that or you see someone else working or they make you a little better or you make them better, respect comes from that."
"Okay, I see that you are one of these guys like I want to hang with you, that’s what Mark was to me with the cowboys when I got there. What happens in that respect is you start working with each other a whole lot, that’s how a friendship or relationship is born. So now you guys want to hang outside of work, the thing is if I never get a chance to see you in that light, those relationships are not formed. So what I saw, I kinda was talking about the difference between Detroit and Dallas and partially in Miami,"
"I wasn’t there as long but in Detroit, I was 1-5 guys in the weight room constantly, who wanted to be there. Maybe it’s not the same program but I remember strength coaches there and there was one I really got along with, who’s over at Washington now, they were almost pushing us out of the weight room because they didn’t want a to get hurt and getting yelled at by the coaches for getting someone hurt in the weight room."
"But Parcells wanted you in the weight room, he knew you had to be strong enough to handle playing football at this level. So he would do that and it was almost a test, to see who was willing to step up to some work. It’s totally different when you get to the football field but basically, let me test this guy out on this environment before I get him into this environment. It was almost a graduation process, well now when you make it mandatory the whole team has to come together in this work environment and I have to watch you work now."
"I even remember one time, Friday was always a long-distance day, where we would run 200,300,400 years sprints. I remember our safety Roy Williams, he always uses to make deals with our strength coach. We have to run like 3 600s and he would be like can we run 1 800 so they would make the deal but that 800 was the worst thing you could run. This wasn’t just a jog it was an 80% strider all the way around a couple of football fields."
"I remember one day the linemen were running and I always liked to be first, I wouldn’t always win but I tried to beat everyone out. So I was beating everybody and Jay one of our defensive tackles pulls next to me in the quarter of the run and pulls ahead of me but used all his juice to get there so I turned on the jets for the last 100 yards or so and ended up passing him in the end."
"After that, we were both gasping for air but he then says ‘Nice Job Proc” and then our equipment guy and trainer sitting there with a Jug of water and he’s like, ‘ great run proc’ these guys are battling, not so much that I won but we fought to the very end. So what happens was Jay and I fought a lot in practice but we also have respect and a mutual relationship with each other that you won’t find in the workplace."
"All of that is a foundation to provide a culture for winning for your team. That was the biggest difference between those two teams that I saw. If you don’t do those things you might as well pack it in."
What was it like to play for Bill Parcells?
"I love this guy, people who are not from the east coast don’t get him. There’s way more blunt attitude like I can call you d*** and still be buddies in the next second. That's how he was, he was already kinda like Bronx and New York guy anyway so he would sit there and trash you all day long and if you can handle it he loved you. If somebody crumpled under that’s like the worst thing you could do and then it doubles or he’s just like forgot about that guy."
"He called me Griz coming out of Montana but he liked me a lot just from that work and that desire to fight somebody. He was pretty ruthless in his commentary but this guy when he did give a piece of positive reinforcement or something that was a massive gift to you. We had a guy named Oliver who was one of our linebackers, we ran a 3-4 base defense when Parcells was there and we ran a lot of these outside zone plays and I pulled in training camp then you could ever imagine. Both sides they liked me because I could get on the perimeter and move."
"He and I were going at it almost every play all camp long. We played New Orleans in a preseason game and Oliver was on kickoff and we were watching the film on the game afterward the next day and he was beating Wide receivers down the field. So one Parcells starts beating all the receivers up for getting beat by a linebacker, he just tore them apart. Then on the backside of that, he goes, ‘ nice job Oliver by the way you ever talk to your mother ‘? He answered yeah what’s up then Parcells goes,’ well you better call her and tell her you just made the Dallas Cowboys’."
"Then the whole place just went crazy and what he ended up doing was, we had so many linebackers he moved him to fullback and ended up being a lead blocker. He ended up destroying people that year, and it was one of the coolest things to see."
"He even told me one time, he came into the weight room and said, ’how are you doing Griz?’ I said I’m alright and he says again, ‘You're doing pretty good Griz, going back and forth from both guards, you know the plays, your pretty smart, no genius but you’re pretty smart’. For a guy to be that ruthless on people, and when he finally gave one to you that was big. I love that guy."
Who was the hardest guy you had to block?
"Lots of guys were different but one of the hardest guys to block was Justin Smith on San Francisco. He had a tricep issue so he wore a brace, that guy was one of the hardest to deal with ever because when they run the 3-4 defense and having the slide-out at the guard 1 he was a good play baller good technique but then he was tough as hell and hard-nosed."
"He could turn the right angle and hit you on a corner and it was a fight for my life to hold on at that point at least for me it was you know I don’t have a whole lot of weight so this guy was hard to work with. So that was by far one of my toughest choirs was to block that guy for sure."
What are some things athletes can be doing right now?
"Man, well first especially if you’re a high school guy you need to get all your training in but you need to blast that stuff all over social media especially Twitter. For guys catching what happened when you got shut down, we had nothing else to do but scroll all day long. I got a buddy here in Keller Texas who I love to death he’s a big body but it's not like he had any crazy junior season or not but he put a bunch of weight on in the summer and he posted everything."
"He posted his 40, short shuttles, bench, random workouts, field drills just posting everything, and was active on Twitter reaching out to coaches. So, what happened was you just get a message from some guy now from some guy that wants to get recruited which coaches get all the time."
"So now the coach takes the chance scrolls down and takes a look at your stuff and thinks okay this guy might have something. What you are trying to do is create a conversation and this guy ended up getting 4 to 5 different scholarship offers from smaller schools just from doing that coming into his senior year too hasn’t even played yet and he has offers on the table."
"So, if you are looking to play at the next level it's just where we are at right now, we were already in there before but COVID-19 just accelerated this ten times faster. Use social media as a tool don’t let it use you as the tool and use that to essentially show people what you want coaches to see, future implorers to see in you."
"Then obviously academically we got to lock those things down. What’s nice about this is zoom calls we can get personal with each other more where okay maybe I can’t lock you in for an hour-long meeting in person but a lot more people can make a 15-minute zoom call than a potential 30 min hour-long meeting. I would utilize that if I was one of the guys and make sure to stay on top of my academics."
"I don’t know if you guys see this at all but down here I see some guys that have scholarship offers and they get burnt out of the sport and decide not to play anymore. I am a little opposite of that I wasn’t before I would listen to what my coaches told me but now I am way more purposeful in my steps and what I am doing."
"I remember I met a guy who wanted to go to engineering school he goes “ I want to be an engineer I don’t want to play football anymore.” I go that’s awesome! Here’s the thing engineering school costs a lot of money and I know football if that’s willing to pay for engineering school or something that will Segway into that use it as a tool. Don’t do the Albert Hansworth and get the deal and then get lazy, your coach will hate you don’t want to do that you want to respect your part of the deal but use it as a tool to pay for the life that you want at least get an invested head start on it."
"We live in this student debt crisis, I call it a crisis it’s not my crisis I don’t want us to pay any of it of people should be handling their debt but we live in a place where the government makes it easy for people to fall into debt and they provide an awful example of that but so many people go out and sign up for a debt they can never pay or will take them their whole lives. Let’s not do that, lets make sure you get life onto a good start and if you got a vehicle to pay for that."
What are the most important skills to a lineman trying to get to a division 1 school or even the NFL?
"Play more than one sport. I think it was Saban who did a study at Alabama you are four times more likely to get a scholarship at Alabama if you played more than one sport. That’s a huge deal, you see it in Baseball a lot especially. So many people want to specialize in that one sport and it's like here's the thing the body has a ton of different modality, lots of different movement patterns to create the athlete so especially when you are talking about the guy who is still in analytical development,"
"This guy has leaps and bounds in athletic development to go not just in Football but in other areas that will help him in football. I wrestled in high school wrestling helped me as a lineman incredibly, I could change levels really easy, my flexibility was way stronger than other guys who maybe just spent the entire offseason in the weight room, but I became a way better athlete because of it."
"So go play basketball go do something else, don’t just be a thrower, because be a full-body athlete not saying they aren’t but go do something to develop your whole body challenge your lungs somewhat or play a spring sport if you want to but do something more than just football to develop yourself as an athlete. I can’t tell you how many recruiters came and watched me during the winter when they were recruiting me at wrestling practice or a match."
"That was huge because now they are seeing me lead as a captain of the wrestling team, doing wind sprints seeing my work capacity in a different place. You know am I just some slob wrestling around on the mat who looks like crap in a different area because what happens when we get to the college level there is winter conditioning, there's a lot of mat drills, there is a lot of extra places we go to, so yeah do an extra sport?"
Talk about what you are now doing for a career?
"I do a few things, my main line of work is pro capita management that’s my company I am a financial advisor independently and I’ll handle family and business portfolios. Likely I had someone do well for me when I was playing ball and I peppered her to death with questions. I became well versed in my own portfolio and I would encourage anyone else who is going through this."
"I know you are focusing on your craft which is great but doesn’t let that be a reason to die in another way. I have awesome clients who are heavily involved with their portfolio that I am an active manager of and if anyone wants to check that out it's procaptialtx.com. Then on the side, I do a lot of speaking gigs and that was born from my faith."
"We have had some crazy stuff going on in our lives man, and I’m lucky God brought me to the point he did, I'm glad I got eyes to see it essentially. That’s where it is easy to get jaded in this world especially with our current climate. You can give me the worst situation I have ever been in and I’ll still come out alright I know I will. It's been a good place I’m lucky."
Do you still have your metal band ??
"Not as much as I would like, I got all the things upstairs we had Mark Polumbo, Leonard Davis, and Justin Chapman and everyone is doing their own thing right now. It is just kind of thrown to the backseat where we have other priorities, I still love my music, love my metal and all of that but you know how it is, my family and business come before it."
"I read a lot and it has to be intentional because our national tendency is away or to the bad not the good. So I read my scripture, I read a ton of books, I listen to podcasts when I'm driving and ted talks and everything I can get my hands on. All of a sudden I became an overflowing cup of information basically and revelation to my life realizing what God was doing in my past and currently which gave me a place where I can project a vision of myself."
"So that ended up being a huge deal and that’s helped me to keep sanity, to keep focused on my goal, the vision I have for my life, and not get distracted by the enemy or anyone else that’s trying to do that. The presidency it doesn’t matter who is going to be next, the guy I voted for isn’t getting in, I don’t care it is not going to affect my life, I have my family to hold up. That is a huge change in responsibility that I have been given that I had to take seriously enough to know that I can't let outside distractors divert me from that."