The game of football has no boundaries in the world.
Although there are millions of NFL fans in the United States, it can be easy for one to forget that the game is watched and loved by many more people across the world.
Haruhito (TJ) Tsuji – a recipient of the Bill Walsh NFL Minority Coaching Fellowship this season – has a background similar to other coaches in that he played football both in high school and college as a quarterback.
He then played semi-professional football in Japan and was promoted to NFL Europe, where he was the backup quarterback for the Scottish Claymores in 1999.
During his time with the Claymores, TJ became close with the league president, Oliver Luck, who played five seasons in the NFL and is the father of Indianapolis Colts’ quarterback, Andrew Luck.
When TJ was searching for some football jobs in America last March, he found a job as a coaching assistant at West Virginia University, where Luck is now the athletic director.
“I feel TJ would benefit greatly from the educational opportunities this program provides,” Luck wrote in a recommendation letter to the Bill Walsh NFL Minority Coaching Fellowship selection committee. “The exposure to the methods and philosophies of the NFL would continue to enhance his growth in the coaching industry.”
TJ has spent most of his time since 1999 as a commentator for NFL games in Japan. Because so few people in Japan have prior NFL experience, he wanted to gain some higher knowledge of the game to bring back to his job.
“I have experience as an NFL commentator in Japan, but I want to learn more what it’s like to be an NFL assistant and learn about audibles and coverage,” TJ told Redskins.com after Wednesday’s minicamp practice. “I want to help my coaching skills and English skill. I have a coaching job at West Virginia, but after that I don’t know what I want to do.”
After spending time with the Redskins, TJ will return to his job at West Virginia. However, the experience he gained at the team’s Loudoun County headquarters has left TJ hungry to learn as much as he can about the game millions love across the world.
“I want to keep studying the game,” he said. “I am really enjoying myself, and I want to apply to work even longer to see what happens in training camp and offseason.”