In four short months, 1977 Port Isabel graduate Juan Castillo went from unemployed to world champion.
Fired in October for the first time in his 30-year coaching career, Castillo — the former defensive coordinator of the Philadelphia Eagles — resurfaced with the Baltimore Ravens less than one month ago as a consultant.
And when the Ravens won Super Bowl XLVII last Sunday, Castillo was looking on from the sidelines.
“It was amazing just to see the team the last two weeks,” Castillo said in a telephone interview Tuesday in Baltimore, Md.
“The mental toughness, the character, the heart — all the things that you sometimes can’t measure — it was awesome to be able to see them do that.
“I was only here two weeks, but I got to see what a Super Bowl winning team is like. That was a great thing,” he said.
Not often do people go from the lowest point of their career to the zenith so quickly.
For Castillo, it was rewarding to land on his feet so soon after he being unceremoniously canned at mid-season by the Eagles, a franchise he had served for more than 17 years.
“For the people at home, they need to know, when you work hard, good things do happen,” he said. “I was let go in the middle of the year and was brought back (by the Ravens) before the season was over for a couple of weeks. That says a lot and means a lot.
“You can’t give up,” he said. “Sometimes things happen that you just don’t like, but if you keep working hard, good things do happen.”
Castillo admits the feeling of being world champion wasn’t quite complete for him because he wasn’t with the Ravens for the entire season. And, he still doesn’t know whether he’ll be getting a Super Bowl ring or not. Since he wasn’t with the team very long, he said, it might not happen.
“You have to be real. I was only there two weeks. I didn’t help them get there,” said Castillo, who was an all-state linebacker for the Tarpons and a former coach for the Texas A&M-Kingsville Javelinas.
Nothing is official yet, but it is expected that Castillo will be promoted to the position of run-game coordinator for next season.
“I’ll get my chance next year with them. Hopefully, we repeat,” he said.
No matter how short his time with the newly anointed world champions, Castillo said, he gained some valuable experience — experience he plans to use next year to get Baltimore back into the Super Bowl
“I got to see a team that won a Super Bowl, and that’s important as a coach because you see the qualities that are necessary, what it takes,” he said.
“It’s not the most talented team that wins, it’s the best team. But the best team is not necessarily the most talented team,” Castillo said. “I’m just determined to help them get back next year. That’s a big challenge.”
And, Castillo said, it was great fun to be part of the victory celebrations and the parade in Baltimore. He got a real kick out of watching the guys who have been with the Ravens all season displaying their euphoria.
“It’s really not for me, so much, as just watching the guys,” he said. “It took 21 weeks (of games) and six weeks of training camp. I got to know a lot of the guys and coaches, and I just felt so happy for them. There is nothing like it,” Castillo said.
“Baltimore loves them and they love Baltimore. It must be an unbelievable feeling.”