Chris Samuels, 1999 Alabama native and American football lineman Chris Samuels (1977- ) starred for the University of Alabama (UA) Crimson Tide and in the National Football League (NFL) with the Washington Football Team, then known as the Redskins. With the Tide from 1996 through 1999 and for the Washington Football Team from 2000-2009, Samuels played the difficult left tackle position. It requires strength, size, and quickness and is critical to protecting the quarterback while pass blocking and opening holes for running backs against equally sized and athletic defensive players. He was a six-time Pro Bowl selection during his 10-year NFL career and honored as one of the “80 Greatest Redskins of All Time.” He was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 2016.
Samuels was born in Mobile, Mobile County, on July 28, 1977, to James, a disabled Vietnam War veteran, and Shirley Samuels. He was the youngest of four boys. He attended Scarborough Middle School and John Shaw High School. There, he played both offense and defense and helped lead Shaw to an 8-3 record and a trip to the state playoffs. After suffering a back injury, he learned that he had the spinal condition stenosis and was warned that he should quit the game or prepare for a short professional career. At about 6 feet 6 inches tall and 290 pounds, he was recruited by Crimson Tide coach Gene Stallings and committed to play for the team in Tuscaloosa, Tuscaloosa County.
Chris Samuels at UA His first campaign with the Tide resulted in a 10-3 record, including a 17-14 Outback Bowl victory over the University of Michigan Wolverines. The following two seasons produced mediocre records at a time when future NFL star Peyton Manning and the University of Tennessee Volunteers dominated the Southeastern Conference (SEC). In his senior season in 1999, Samuels was named to the All-Southeastern Conference Team and as a first-team All American, and he won the Outland Trophy, awarded to college football’s most outstanding interior lineman. He was the first SEC player to win the award since Auburn University‘s Tracy Rocker won it in 1988. Samuels also won the Jacobs Trophy for being the most outstanding blocker in the SEC and did not allow a quarterback sack in 42 straight games. In his senior year in 1999, the Tide won the SEC Championship Game in a 34-7 victory over the University Florida Gators and was the second win over the Gators that season, though the teams shared the conference title. It was the Tide’s first SEC championship victory since 1992, also against Florida.
During his time at Alabama, Samuels helped lead future NFL star running back Shaun Alexander into the college football record book as the nation’s leading scorer and into the Crimson Tide record book as well in their senior year. Alexander is high on the lists for most yards per season and most rushing touchdowns in a game, season, and career.
Chris Samuels in Washington, D.C. At the time of the NFL draft, Samuels was taken third by the Washington Redskins, which had traded away draft picks to choose earlier and sign Samuels. He entered the starting lineup his first season. Although Washington was largely mediocre during his tenure, Samuels was selected as an All Pro in 2001 and for the Pro Bowl in 2002 and from 2005 through 2008. Washington would only reach the playoffs twice and win only once as the team struggled through various coaches. As the left tackle, however, Samuels played the same important roles as he did at Alabama. He assisted former Auburn University football star Stephen Davis break his own record for most yards by a Washington running back, with 1,421 yards in 2001 and when Davis was also named to the Pro Bowl in 2000 and 2003. Later, Samuels would later help running back Clinton Portis break the Washington franchise record for most yards in a season, with 1,516 in 2005. Portis and Samuels also enjoyed a notable 2008 season when Portis ran for 1,487 yards and became one of only two NFL players to rush for at least 120 yards per game in five straight contests.
Also during Samuels’s tenure in Washington, wide receiver Santana Moss broke the franchise record for most receiving yards in 2005, with 1,483 yards. He was second in the league in the statistic and was named All Pro. Moss later had several exceptional seasons with Samuels in the lineup. In 2007, former Auburn standout quarterback Jason Campbell set the franchise record for most completions in a game, 33. These records were achieved in part through Samuels’s superlative efforts to protect the quarterback.
Samuels and former Tide teammate Shaun Alexander were briefly reunited in 2008 in Washington for four games, but by then injuries had begun to hamper Alexander as they would Samuels. Indeed, Samuels was plagued by knee and neck injuries and played in only five games in 2009. He was urged by doctors to consider retiring, which he did in March 2010 after undergoing 12 surgeries during his career and enduring on-field hits that resulted in numbness and paralysis. In March 2011, he married long-time friend Monique Cox, with whom he would have three children. He was named one of Washington’s 80 greatest players in 2012 and was later added to the team’s “Ring of Fame” that decorates the stadium’s interior. Samuels joined another Alabamian, native Dave Butz of LaFayette, Chambers County, who was similarly honored for his 14-year career in Washington that included two Super Bowl victories.
Following the end of his playing career, Samuels pursued his long-held dream to become a coach. He began with Washington by entering a minority internship coaching program that included mini-camps, off-season activities, and a regular training camp, with the aim of providing more racial minorities with coaching opportunities. He was then offensive coordinator at Blount High School in Prichard, Mobile County, in 2011 when the team won a regional title and a playoff game. In 2012, Samuels returned to Tuscaloosa in join the Crimson Tide coaching staff as a student assistant and to finish his degree in physical education, which was awarded in December 2013. During his tenure, the team won the National Championship over the University of Notre Dame. Samuels then returned to the Washington, D.C., metro area as head coach of Osborne High School in Manassas, Virginia, not far from the headquarters of the Washington Football Team. He left that position after moving to Potomac, Maryland, and has coached at Winston Churchill High School in Potomac and at Northwest High School in nearby Germantown.
Samuels and his wife have worked in real estate, and she would gain fame for appearing in the Bravo TV series Real Housewives of Potomac.