For those who follow Navy Football religiously, the name Phil Emery brings back good memories. From 1991 to 1998, Coach Emery served as the strength & conditioning coach for Navy football. When his former players think of him, it is the toughness, dedication, and commitment that stand out. The stereotypical strength & conditioning coach is a big man with a no nonsense attitude who pushes players beyond their perceived performance limits. Phil Emery is that and a lot more. He brought continuity and leadership to the team. LtCol Brian Grana USMC, who played Navy football in the 1990s and trained under Phil Emery, had this to say:
“While we were all still figuring out how to be Midshipmen and future Navy and Marine Corps Officers, Phil “Satan” Emery made us men. He is easily one of the most influential people I have ever come across – and this is not hyperbole.”
John Feinstein made Phil Emery famous in his 1996 book Army-Navy: A Civil War. Emery earned the nickname Satan by the Navy football players because of his meticulous attention to detail, brutal workouts, and almost superman-like commitment to his duties. [Editor’s note: a quick Google search of “Phil Emery and Satan” yields over 7.7 million hits]. One story from Feinstein’s book really stands out.
One winter morning, an ice storm had completely shut down the eastern seaboard. Since Emery lived outside of Annapolis, the players arrived for their 5:30 AM running and conditioning session fully convinced they would end up with a morning off. But as they walked through the darkness to Ricketts Hall, they saw a lone car sitting in the parking lot waiting for them—Emery’s. Only the devil himself could have made it there before dawn—and taken such pleasure in being there on a totally miserable morning.
After leaving USNA in 1998, Emery’s career continued to flourish. He scouted a total of 14 seasons for the Bears, Falcons and Chiefs respectively. He earned great admiration and respect around the NFL much the way he did at USNA.
All that hard work led to the job of a lifetime. On January 28, Phil Emery was named the General Manager for the Chicago Bears. He has his work cut out for him. The Bears are coming off a disappointing 8-8 season with off the field drama and contract disputes. But if any man is capable of handling such issues, it’s Phil Emery.