The offseason before his second NFL season, 49ers running back Glen Coffee, who was born and raised in Florida, never left the Bay Area.
He did not return home or find a beach at any point in the offseason. Instead, he dedicated himself to getting bigger and faster. He gained 17 points without increasing any body fat.
The 49ers coaching staff was very high on him after a rookie season in which he averaged just 2.7 yards per rushing attempt as Frank Gore's backup. He gained just 226 yards and scored one touchdown in 14 games as a rookie. That low production inspired him to make sacrifices prior to his second season to make dramatic improvements.
The work ethic he demonstrated in the offseason made it all the more surprising when in August 2010, the deeply religious Coffee made a life-altering decision as his teammates were heading out to the practice field during training camp in Santa Clara.
"I was sitting in the locker room before practice and looked down at my spats," Coffee told CSNBayArea.com. "And I told myself, 'If you cut off your spats, that's really it. You're not going to practice. It was a slow-motion type of thing. I started at the top of my spats, and I slowly cut them off. It was almost like shackles falling off my feet."
Coffee informed then-coach Mike Singletary of his decision to retire before his second NFL season. He said the most difficult part of his decision was leaving his teammates behind.
"That was the hardest thing to do walk away from them," Coffee said. "But when Jesus calls, you have to answer."
Three years later, Coffee is set to graduate from Airborne School at Fort Benning, Ga., after enlisting in the U.S. Army on Feb. 4. His goal is to become a member of the U.S. Army Special Forces, he told Alabama Media Group.
"I know my motivation and I know my focus," Coffee said. "I just felt like being in an elite unit would pretty much weed out anybody who didn't have the drive and focus that I believe I have. I feel like if I make it in (Special Forces), that guy to my left and my right is somebody I could depend on with my life and visa versa."
The 49ers selected Coffee in the third round of the 2009 draft after he rushed for 1,383 yards and 10 touchdowns as a junior at Alabama. That was also the year Coffee said he found Christ.
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"Football never was that it in my life," Coffee said shortly after his retirement. "It was normally it. After that season I had the big season and entered the draft. And I feel like I never should've have entered the draft."
Coffee said he has no second thoughts and no regrets about his decision to walk away from the NFL at the age of 23. Although he said he wants to become a minister, Coffee said that is more of a long-term goal.
Since leaving the NFL, Coffee moved back to his Florida and continued to speak at religious events. In October 2010, Coffee was arrested for possession of a concealed firearm. The charge was dropped when it was determined he did not violate the law for having a loaded pistol in the center console of his vehicle.
A year after he retired, Coffee briefly returned to football as a defensive player on a Florida semi-pro team. In his spare time, he watched a lot of war-based movies, he told Alabama Media Group.
"I've always considered myself a warrior, somebody who would fight for what he believed in," Coffee said. "It hit me like, 'What do you think the military does and what do you think the military is full of? Warriors.' All of a sudden, I had this respect for the military and I just realized that there is no America without the men and women who serve this country.
"I figured that if I'm able, the Lord's blessed me with an able body while I'm young, to get out there and get dirty."