From a multi-sport standout at Hazlewood to an underrated defensive back at Alabama to starting for the Indianopolis Colts, Chris Goode’s path to football stardom began on the playground in Town Creek.
Under the shadows of Hazlewood High bleachers, Chris, along with his brothers and cousins, learned to play the sport that would eventually take them to the NFL.
"I think we played just about every sport against each other," said Goode, who will be inducted into the Lawrence County Sports Hall of Fame later this month. "We would always play football for three or four hours on the weekends. There was always some sort of sports activity going on. We knew when it was time to come in though. Our mom would scream so loud, we could hear her three block away."
Chris is the oldest of three brothers that would all eventually play football at The University of Alabama. He is also the first Goode brother to lead Hazlewood to a state championship during his senior year in 1981.
During that state championship season, Chris rushed for 1,528 yards and intercepted 11 passes. As impressive as those stats were, the senior did it while sharing time with his brother Kerry and other running backs. In one of these games, Goode compiled 269 yards on just six carries.
"I was one of the only skill guys on the team because most of the guys in my class were lineman," Goode said about the 1981 championship team. "Kerry's class had a lot of good running backs and I knew we were going to have a good year that year because I had played with all those guys in little league and knew how good they were."
Like his brothers, Chris’s talent was not limited to the football field. Goode was a versatile player on the basketball court and won a track championship his junior year where he set a state hurdles record only to be broken by his brother, Pierre, several years later.
It was Goode’s talent on the football field that garnered attention from colleges around the state, however, and the his football career nearly took a far different path to the NFL.
"Auburn told me they wanted me as a running back, but I wanted to play defensive back," said Goode. "I thought I would make a better DB because I didn't think I would bulk up and become a running back. They ended up withdrawing the scholarship because they said they had enough running backs."
Goode said if he had signed with Auburn, it's likely that his brothers and cousin "probably" would have ended up with the Tigers.
Goode eventually signed with UNA and then transferred to Alabama where he walked on before earning a scholarship the following season. The Town Creek native played in 85 percent of the games while he was at Alabama and earned the team's Most Improved Defensive Back Award while he was there.
"Even though I played in most of the games while I was at Alabama, I only started one," said Goode. "I would usually come in during the first or second series and play the rest of the game."
Goode said he never really understood why he didn’t start at Alabama, but recalls one day in practice when one of the coaches offered an explanation.
"We were watching film with the one of the DB coaches at Alabama one day, and he turned to me and said, "Chris, you're one of the best defensive backs we've got. I would start you, but you've never started a game here.' I looked around at the other guys like, 'What?'"
Goode’s effort did not go unnoticed by those who really matter though and he was contacted by a number of NFL teams about acquiring his services if he went undrafted in the 1987 draft.
"Once I worked out for the scouts, they told me I looked good on film and at the workout," said Goode. "They told me they couldn't figure out why I didn't start. Once I got the opportunity, I knew I would be good at it. I knew I was fast enough, but I thought it might be hard because I hadn't started at Alabama."
The reserve defensive back was eventually drafted by the Indianopolis Colts in the 10th round of that draft. Goode recalls his draft day experience: "Four or five teams told me that wanted me as a free agent if I didn't get drafted, so I didn't really know what to expect," said Goode.
"They Cowboys called me several times during the draft and right after I found out I would be drafted by the Colts, they called again and ask me, 'Did you just get drafted?' I told them it was too late."
Goode went on to play seven years with the Colts where he won numerous defensive player awards including Player of the Week, Special Teams and Defensive Player of the Game awards. After his playing career, Goode went into coaching in the Arena Football League where he served as the defensive coordinator for the Birmingham Steeldogs.
"It was easy," Goode said about the transition into coaching. "All the guys respected me and I'm still friends with a lot of them now. It was good to teach them some of the things I learned in the NFL. I talked to the guys about what they had to do to make it to the next level. I loved the experience."
Goode now lives in Birmingham where he is employed in the financial industry. He keeps his football memories close to his heart and often uses them to mentor kids in Birmingham.
"I have a friend of mine that owns a gym and I go over and train young kids and talk to them about life and football," said Goode. "They spend so much time talking about football. I stress to them that once you get out of football, you've got work and perform even harder."
Chris Goode will be inducted into the Lawrence County Sports Hall of Fame Saturday, April 24 at the Moulton Rec. Center. Next week, The Advertiser will profile his brother, Kerry Goode, who will also be inducted at the ceremony.