By Julia Faron
Special to stlouisrams.com
Ray Agnew has dedicated 24 years of his life to professional football, catching the view from multiple sides of the game, and now passing his knowledge on to his three sons.
Agnew was drafted 10th overall in the 1990 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots, spending five seasons there before moving on to the New York Giants for three seasons. He joined the Rams in 1998 as a free agent and was a key component of the 1999 Super Bowl championship team.
As the saying goes, home is where the heart is and Agnew and his wife, Katherine, had a warm feeling about the St. Louis community, so they sold their land in North Carolina after the 2000 season and decided to stay here.
“My wife and I felt like God was leading us to stay here in St. Louis," Agnew said.
After going through 2001 training camp, Agnew decided it was time to hang up his cleats. Things fell into place quickly from there and the day after he retired from playing, then head coach Mike Martz offered him a job as the Director of Player Development and team pastor.
Known as a leader among his teammates, the role eased the difficulty that comes along with the decision to retire from a profession that you love.
“It was tough at first, especially the first year because we went to the Super Bowl,” Agnew said. “But the actual transition was great because I was still around the game. The thing you miss the most is the locker room and I was still able to go in the locker room and hang out, so the transition wasn’t that bad, but I missed playing.”
In 2005, Martz and General Manager Charley Armey recommended that Agnew try out scouting for the team. With that kind of backing, he thought it was worth a try, and it didn’t take much to convince him that it was a fit.
“I realized that’s what I wanted to do,” Agnew said. “I fell in love with it. Since I started scouting, I haven’t worked a day my life.”
Over the years, Agnew has seen much change in the Rams organization working under different philosophies and leadership.
“I love all the people that I have worked with,” Agnew said. “It’s good now. From the head coach on down, we have very solid leadership. We’re headed in the right direction.”
At home, football has lived on with the next generation of Agnews via his three sons. His oldest son Ray III, 22, is a fifth-year senior at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. He plays fullback for SIUC and graduated in May with one year of eligibility remaining.
Malcolm, 20, is a running back, also at SIUC. He transferred there for the upcoming season after playing two years at Oregon State.
Katherine Agnew is a former track star and he credits her athleticism to how their boys made the switch to skill positions on offense.
Keenan, 14, takes after his dad and plays defensive line at De Smet Jesuit High School.
“I didn’t want any one of them to play,” Agnew said. “I didn’t push anybody to play because it takes a toll on your body and I didn’t want them to go through that. But they all wanted to play naturally because they were around it.”
Once they made the decision, Agnew and his wife decided to support each of their sons from the sidelines. And he admitted that he takes great joy in watching them play.
“I enjoy it more than I ever did playing myself,” Agnew said. “I just enjoy watching them play. But, I’m a nervous wreck when they play because they carry the ball, I don’t want to see them fumble and things like that. But I am extremely proud of all three of them.”
Last summer, Agnew took on the role of head coach for the Junior Spartans football team in St. Louis county. It’s a middle school-aged team that acts a sort of feeder school for boys interested in attending De Smet for high school. They run the same offense and defense that the high school does.
“Part of the reason I did it, was for my kid (Keenan),” Agnew said. “And also I get a coaching fix, because I’m really a coach at heart, but I don’t know if I could handle the hours on this level.”
The Junior Spartan program is hoping to develop a young person to be the head coach for the upcoming season because Agnew doesn’t have the time necessary to do it the right way. Between his scouting responsibilities with the Rams and getting to as many of each of his son’s games as possible, he won’t be able to make the commitment this season.
It is clear that Agnew’s loyalty to football has not weakened in his retirement because he continues to surround himself with the game. In many ways, he has reinforced his love of football through his loyalty to the Rams organization and sees the game from a new light through his sons.