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Herm Edwards is used to inspiring his troops.
The former NFL coach and current ESPN analyst is known for delivering the type of inspirational talks that can make even the most unathletic of souls feel as if they can take to the gridiron and shred the competition.
Naturally, he was the right choice to coach a squad of celebrity do-gooders for the season finale of ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," which airs this Sunday at 8 p.m. ET.
In the episode, the team heads to Pine Mountain Valley, Ga., to make over the lives of Jeremy and Jennifer Williams, whose son Jacob was diagnosed with spina bifida before he was born. The family's story became more complicated several years after Jacob's birth, when Jeremy, a local high school football coach, was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease. Their house is crumbling and too small to accommodate the two disabled family members.
"When you read the story of the Williams family and especially [Jeremy's] story, he's done a tremendous job not only as a football coach, but as an inspirational leader for that community," Edwards said. "All coaches feel like they're role models and he's done [a lot] for players that have played for him in that community. In life, we get a little down but this guy has never backed off from using his ability to not only coach, but to mold young people and not give them an excuse for failure. He's proven that he's not only a good coach but a great role model."
In addition to Edwards, ABC brought in Baltimore Ravens tackle Michael Oher and the Tuohy family (their story was featured in the book and motion picture "The Blind Side"), Mark Schlereth, Mark May and Desmond Howard to pitch in and help out.
On the show, Edwards directs the volunteers to demolish the old house before a new one is built. Edwards gives pep talks to the team, telling the volunteers it's them against the house.
"It's really done well, and I think all the people that were involved in it were excellent," Edwards said. "They've got passion for this and you can tell right away."
It was an inspiring experience for Edwards, who says that he was taken back to his own high school days.
"A lot of things my high school coach taught me, I remember," Edwards said. "He was right. Here I am in pro football going back to what my high school coach told me. It still holds up today."
Edwards is excited to watch Sunday's episode, because he wasn't able to see the final product. He and his team helped demolish the house, but they left the rebuilding work to the "Extreme Makeover" team. He's heading to Atlantic City this weekend for a golf tournament and will watch the show with his wife, kids and golf buddies.
"It made me look at life for what it is," Edwards said. "Our life is not a dress rehearsal. You have to live every day and get something out of it. Don't make any excuses. I've always felt that way, but when you go there and you look at that community and the house that he lived in for the last 13 years, you walk in there and you go, 'Wow.' You think about what this guy is trying to do for the community. It makes you stop and think, 'I get this. I see this.' So when some adversity hits, don't fold up your tent. Coach Williams has never done that. That's not his motto at all."
Kelley L. Carter is a freelance entertainment reporter. She can be reached at thekelleylcarter.com.
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