LAKE FOREST – Imagine being a sugar-filled 8-year-old with a nose for trouble.
Today should be a great day for chaos. Today, you’ll have a substitute teacher.
Then the door opens.
In walks a mountain.
It’s Jermon Bushrod, a 6-foot-5, 320-pound offensive lineman who is back in Virginia during his winter break from Towson University.
Change of plans.
Better behave, little man.
Here’s our recent conversation with Mr. Bushrod, now the Bears’ left tackle.
Musick: You once worked as a substitute teacher. What’s the story behind that?
Bushrod: Honestly, it was more of like a college break job. At Towson, we had like 45 days off for Christmas break, and I would go home and I would train, and I needed to find a job. I had an aunt who was a principal, so she helped me out and put me together with the right contact. I went through the whole process and they let me be a substitute teacher.
It was neat, especially to the younger kids, to meet somebody so big coming into the room. They were kind of intimidated. They had a bunch of questions.
Musick: What kinds of questions did they ask?
Bushrod: Well, they knew I played football in college. You know how little kids are. They ask you all kinds of questions: Girlfriend? How big am I? How much do I weigh? You know, just normal kid stuff.
Musick: Do you remember what you earned as a substitute?
Bushrod: I want to say it was $80 a day.
Musick: In college, that’s a lot of money.
Bushrod: That’s not bad. In college, that’s not bad. But the bad thing is we only got paid once a month, which sucks for teachers.
Musick: At that point, were you thinking about teaching if football didn’t work out?
Bushrod: Honestly, I really didn’t know. Probably not teaching in school, but coaching, being around kids. That situation made it neat because it wasn’t like I was up there giving long lectures or anything, but it was being around the kids, seeing how they interact, and I was able to do it in all three phases of school: elementary, middle and high school. But mostly it was elementary school, because I was a young college kid. They pretty much just had me overseeing and giving the kids busy work and keeping them in line and all that stuff.
Musick: So mostly you worked with kindergarten through sixth grade?
Bushrod: For the most part, but I would sit in for a couple high school classes, too.
Musick: Were you all right with that? Some teachers prefer the older grades.
Bushrod: (smiles) Yeah, you know, you’ve just got to keep them in check and figure out the things they can and can’t get away with. Because in high school, you get a substitute teacher, you try to take advantage of that.
Musick: So what’s more difficult, being a substitute or blocking pass rushers?
Bushrod: Oh, man. This sport is tough mentally and physically, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. If you can do this, you can easily teach a bunch of little kids. (laughs)
But hats off to teachers, man. That’s not an easy job.
[As a teacher], you have a responsibility to kids to try to put them on the right track. Whether they do it or not, it’s still going to be reflected on you, good or bad.
Musick: Would you go back to subbing after your playing days are finished?
Bushrod: (laughs) No! No, I would not. But probably something around coaching little kids.