Commanders QB coach Ken Zampese: Like father, like son

Commanders quarterback coach Ken Zampese has been going through some tough times the last few weeks.

No, not in coaching the Commanders quarterbacks. Much more importantly, Ken’s father, Ernie Zampese died on August 29.

“(I’m) deeply saddened of course selfishly, but very happy and thankful. Everybody hopefully gets a chance to hear well done, good and faithful servant; he did two weeks ago today. So, congratulations to him, very happy for him. He’s my first call. My first guy. He and I were tighter than tight, so there’s nothing left unsaid.  It went quick and it was good for him. He’s in a better place.”

Ken recalls attending training camps when dad Ernie was the Chargers offensive coordinator. “Well, I got a chance to go to training camp at an early age, so that was so much fun for me to watch and be around guys. The ball never hit the ground. I’m watching Don Coryell with Dan Fouts, Charlie Joiner, Kellen Winslow, John Jefferson, Wes Chandler, Lydell Mitchell. All these guys running around catching balls. I had no idea what I was looking at. I had no idea.”

“That was a lot of fun and just seeing dad being the orchestrator of it all. Putting the pieces together but more importantly, what I gained from him was developing relationships, deep lasting, meaningful relationships that just get you to another level of kumbaya with the group you’re in and friendship and camaraderie with the guys. As you noticed, anybody who finishes playing or coaching, they missed the camaraderie more than anything else, and he was a camaraderie builder.”

“From quarterback barbecues in the backyard on Friday nights to all sorts of different things. He built community at every turn. All one-off relationships, meaningful, unique to that person. He’s got little crews all over the place. You go to the Chevron; he’s got a crew at the Chevron 5:00 AM coffee; he’s helping the lady open up. Taking the old papers out, putting the new papers in, getting her set up. Then the guys that work the manual labor jobs are rolling in for coffee. He’s there. They’re going through whatever the deals of the day are. Then he goes over to the grocery store. He knows all the ladies at the pharmacies. He knows everything was building unity, relationships, and community and that’s what I took from him.”

One of the things he learned from dad Ernie that he still uses today is, “It’s just how you deliver a message. You can say anything to somebody, as hard as the message might be, and it’s all in the delivery. The more you have built up before you get to the delivery, the better it’s gonna get received.”

“The only thing gets you through the toughest times is the bonds that you have with the people immediately in your circle. So, we are strengthening and reinforcing those on a daily basis. It was the first thing that hit my brain when we got him (Wentz), after being so excited about it. Broke my leg, doing back flips down the hallway. Just how do we get him tied here, deeply emotionally for he and his family and so we can get the most out of him for all of us.”


Story originally appeared on Commanders Wire