Sam Madison played for 12 years in the NFL. He was a Pro Bowler four times and voted All-Pro three times. He won a Super Bowl with the Giants in 2007. As football careers go, his had very few holes.
But these days he measures his accomplishments in much simpler things. Like a table filled with water bottles.
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Madison, who is serving a three-week coaching internship with the Giants and working with the cornerbacks in particular, said he was so happy to see Aaron Ross in a meeting earlier this training camp with those water bottles stacked in front of him. When Ross was drafted by the Giants, he had trouble with cramping. His body fat was too low and that meant he needed extra hydration. Encouraging Ross to drink more was just one of the tips that Madison passed along, and he was tickled to see that his advice stuck.
"Even though he was an older guy when he came out [in the draft], he still needed some maturity and he just needed somebody to focus and guide him in the right direction," Madison told Newsday. "We did a pretty good job."
Madison made such an impression on the younger players when he was with the Giants that when Ross returned to the team this spring as a free agent he said he wanted to take on more of a leadership role and be more of a mentor, just as Madison -- and R.W. McQuarters -- had done for him and Corey Webster and others when they were younger. So far in camp Ross hasn't had to play the role of Madison. Madison has been around to do it himself.
"I love it!" Ross beamed when asked about having his old professor around for the summer. "Man, that's like the big brother. My rookie year when I came in, Sam took me under his wing and kind of showed me the ropes, taught me what to do, taught me how to take care of my body, how to study, how to take notes. He's doing exactly the same thing he was doing in my rookie year. Man, Sam, that's a huge bonus to our secondary, especially the corners."
Webster tried to quantify what it means to have Madison back with the Giants.
"What is it, infinity times infinity?" he said.
Madison has always had a knack for working with younger players. Now those younger players are the veterans and Madison said he sees them passing on the same lessons he taught them.
"Just sitting in the meeting rooms, I would get up and go over to them and say: 'Hey, this is what I see you doing,' " Madison said. "Now these guys are doing the same thing."
That doesn't mean Madison is sitting back and just watching.
"The first day I get here I jumped right in," he said. "I know the younger guys are like: 'Man, what is this dude doing?' But that's the way it has to be."
His impact has been noticeable on a secondary that is trying to regroup after a disappointing 2012 season.
"Sam is very good medicine," Tom Coughlin said. "The guys seem to respond and like the fact that he's here right now."
Madison, 39, who played most of his career with the Dolphins, still works for that team as a broadcaster. But this is his third season as a coaching intern -- he spent the previous two with the Rams -- and he'd like to find his way into the business on a more permanent basis.
Despite a stellar career and remaining around the game, he said he never gets the itch to play again. He gets too much satisfaction from what he's doing.
"I'll go back home and I see these guys [in games]," he said. "I'm able to call them up and be like, 'Hey, this is what I see you doing!' And then the next game if he makes that adjustment, to get a text, that's what makes me feel good."