EAGAN, Minn. – The biggest transition that will accompany Terence Newman's new role may be the name that comes with it.
When Newman arrives at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center now, he'll head to a second-floor office rather than the locker room. But when asked during a session with media members if the different routine will be strange for him, he said it's "more weird" being called "Coach" by guys who just a few days ago were teammates.
"I don't know if I can get used to that, to be honest with you. 'Coach Newman.' 'Hey, Coach.' That just doesn't sound right," Newman quipped.
But after 16 seasons in the NFL, the past four of them in Purple, that's the title that Newman is assuming.
The former cornerback announced Saturday that he was retiring from his playing career and joining the Vikings coaching staff.
While Newman said there were "situations" where he could have possibly still held a roster spot, he "realized it was time" to step away from the playing field.
Early in the press conference, Newman pointed out the young talent on Minnesota's roster.
"[Looking at] some of the younger talent, obviously, you have to say, 'I'll be selfish,' and maybe take a roster spot, or give somebody else an opportunity to live their dream," Newman said.
Newman will be working alongside defensive backs coach Jerry Gray as the Vikings nickel/defensive backs coach. It might be difficult to adjust to hearing "Coach" in front of his name, but as far as relating to the players as a coach rather than a teammate, Newman isn't concerned.
He pointed out that he already has been helping mentor the younger players, and he's earned their respect as a longtime veteran in the league.
"These guys saw the work that [I] put in. I think that at a certain point in time you get respect, and people understand, 'Hey, this guy's out here after 15 seasons busting his butt and studying,' " Newman said. "They know what I brought to the table as a player, and I'm going to bring the same tenacity to helping these guys, as well.
"Having helped younger guys, I mean, from when I was in Dallas, to Cincinnati, to here – I feel like it's a fraternity of sorts," Newman added. "We play DB. It's one of the hardest positions, doing something so unnatural – which is going backwards while you've got a guy running forward at you. So I feel like you must pass on knowledge when you can. Because the position is hard enough, and I've played long enough, been in the system long enough, that I feel like I can definitely help in different areas."
Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer also feels confident that Newman will be able to contribute to the coaching staff.
Zimmer and Newman have overlapped all three of the cornerback's stops as a player, totaling nine full seasons together.
Zimmer said that Newman's detailed approach to the game and ability to think "big picture" has always impressed him and will help him make the step to coaching – even though it's not always a position envisioned by Zimmer. He said he "always thought of him as a player" but looked at it from a different perspective when a peer two or three years ago mentioned that he would be interested in hiring Newman as a coach.
The new role will be an adjustment, but Zimmer doesn't anticipate the dynamic to change between him and his former player. In fact, Newman has already gotten to work prepping for the Vikings upcoming season opener against the 49ers.
"I went in his office this morning and said, 'I want you to look at something for me.' Then he said, 'Hey, have you noticed this?' He talked to me about some of the things with their tendencies," Zimmer said. "It's not going to change much."
Newman was asked about contract negotiations and moving from a player's salary to that of a coach.
He didn't bat an eye.
"I still have my lunch money from third grade, so," Newman quipped before changing his tone and answering sincerely, "My deal is I have a passion for the guys in this building – the guys who play for this team and the coaches.
"I just wanted to have an opportunity to do something I've never done, [and] that's the main motivation," Newman continued. "I come in here, that's what motivates me – trying to help out these young guys and win a ring."
Newman is looking forward to a new experience and opportunity to continue chasing his ultimate goal, but he isn't looking too far ahead.
He called the new position "a trial period."
"I can come in, do my work, try to help out and see if this is something that I would like to be doing," Newman said. "It's low pressure, but I feel like I'm a diligent worker and work hard, so if it's something in the future I can see myself doing after this year, I would definitely do it."
On Sunday, Newman will step onto the turf of U.S. Bank Stadium to begin his 16th NFL season. Only this time around, he won't be running through the tunnel and will trade in his helmet and pads for a headset.
Has he given the contrast much thought?
"I've thought about it what it's going to be like on the sideline not having to hit 300-pound men," Newman laughed. "It's probably going to be different the first time, not having done it before. It's probably one of those things where you have to really experience it to be able to talk about it, and I don't know the feeling I'll have – if I'll have a rush of a emotions or be nervous as hell because I can't do anything on the field, depending on how the game is going or whatever.
"That'll be one that I just let happen and just go with it," he added.