Charles Burks: Journey to the NFL | Episode 44


What does it mean to really coach someone and be a true leader? How does one overcome institutionalized disadvantages in your journey? What will it take to surpass them?

In this podcast episode, Billy and Brandy Eldridge speak with Charles Burks about his journey to the NFL.

Meet Charles Burks

Charles Burks is the defensive coaching assistant for the Miami Dolphins. A native of Grand Prairie, Texas, Burks earned his bachelor’s degree in kinesiology in 2010, followed by his Masters’s in sports administration in 2011.

Burks also completed an internship with the Detroit Lions during the summer of 2012, working closely with current Rams Defensive Coordinator Tim Walton and Defensive Backs coach Marcus Robertson.

In This Podcast


  • Coaching with real constructive criticism
  • Journey to the NFL and racism

Coaching with real constructive criticism

Charles Burks found that coaching in the way he thought one was supposed to coach did more damage than good, therefore he changed his method of coaching to uplift his players instead of tearing them down.

If you take constructive criticism, the first concept and wording is constructive, that means you build and I think as coaches if you’re not building you’re not coaching. (Charles Burks)

In this way, if a mistake or issue arises, they work through it for what it is instead of getting wrapped up in it. We can therefore build people up around us with this philosophy, instead of thinking we have to first tear them down.

If you’re trying to blow somebody else’s candle out to make yours shine brighter, you’re not going to live a peaceful life. I think you’re making it about you but as a coach and as a leader you should make it about them and that will in turn empower you. (Charles Burks)

Real leaders are the ones that empower the people around them because it is not about having the biggest and best ego, it is about developing people to be their best whole selves.

Journey to the NFL and racism

Early on in my coaching career my biggest hurdle was working in an environment where the majority of [my] coworkers were middle to late-aged white men and they treated [me] as a black coach rather than a coach. (Charles Burks)

The early days of Charles’ career and journey to the NFL were filled with difficult racially charged moments that he said he just had to stomach in order to get through.

Such acts of racism, from joking remarks to seeing triggering flags every day are all signs that humanity has not moved that much forward from the past. These signs are present in all aspects, from politics to sports and so players and coaches have to have their guard up on two fronts at all times.

As a society, local and global, it is our duty to one another and to our neighbors that we self-evaluate, self-actualize, and practice accountability and compassion. It is not enough to be kind because kindness is not an excuse for bad behavior.

Achieving authentic unity is possible with a global effort and it would ricochet around the world.

Books mentioned in this episode

Nancy Verrier – The Primal Wound: Understanding the Adopted Child

Glennon Doyle – Untamed

Are you ready to find the freedom to be yourself as a beta male? Do you want permission and tools to be your best beta? Are you ready to join the revolution to find strength as a beta? If you want to be comfortable in your skin and be the most authentic beta male, then our free beta revolution course is for you. Sign up for free.

Useful links:

Meet Billy Eldridge


Meet Billy, the resident beta male. For Billy, this is a place to hang out with other beta males and the people who love them. We’re redefining what beta males look like in the world. I have learned to embrace my best beta self, and I can help you to do the same. As a therapist, I understand the need to belong. You belong here. Join the REVOLUTION.


Meet Brandy Eldridge


Hello, Beta friends. I am an alpha personality who is embracing the beta way of life. I feel alive when connected with people, whether that is listening to their stories or learning about their passions. Forget small talk, let’s go deep together. Come to the table and let’s have some life-changing conversations.


Thanks for listening!

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Podcast Transcription

[BILLY ELDRIDGE]: Beta Male Revolution is part of the Practice of the Practice podcast network, a family of podcasts seeking to change the world. To hear other podcasts like the Bomb Mom podcast, Imperfect Thriving or Empowered and Unapologetic, go to
[LIAM ELDRIDGE]: Hello everybody. Welcome to Beta Male Revolution. My name is Liam Eldridge and my parents Brandy and Billy Eldridge will be talking to one of the Miami coaches today. I hope you all like the rest of the podcast and I will see you guys later.
[BILLY]: Well guys, today we have Charles Burks with us. Brandy’s just did give me —
[BRANDY ELDRIDGE]: I’m so getting, okay, Charles. Welcome. Welcome.
[CHARLES BURK]: Thank you for having me.
[BRANDY]: Thank you for being here. So I have to tell everyone, all of our listeners that I taught school in South Grand Prairie, which is South Dallas, between Dallas and Fort Worth and Charles was one of my students. And if I slip and say, Charlie, I apologize, but you were Charlie, to me. You were one of my favorite students and you can talk to teachers and they will tell you, like, there are some of these students that stick out and you remember the rest of your life and you were that student to me.
[CHARLES]: Well thank you. I appreciate that.
[BRANDY]: So I have to tell you, I don’t know if you knew this, but I had quit teaching and I took all of my savings, my little bit of retirement that I had at the age of 22 and I backpacked across Europe for a long [crosstalk] I did. So I backpacked across Europe and I came back. I had taught one year at South Grand Prairie High School, wonderful year, and I taught seniors and freshmen. And I left after my first year teaching there because I was like, “Oh, this is too much responsibility. Like, I don’t want to be tied down to anything right now.” And so I backpacked across Europe. I called the principal, I tried getting different jobs, I couldn’t find a job because I was only qualified to be a teacher. I called the principal and I’m like, “Hey, I’m back in town.”
And she was like,” I’m so glad you called. I have a position for you.” And so, I don’t know if you remember, there was a teacher in your classroom before me and I came on at Christmas time, right after Christmas in January, I came on because there were these classes that were unruly and the teacher couldn’t keep the classes together. And she was just saying that the students were out of control and there was this one period of kids that were in there and there were all boys.
[CHARLES]: Yeah. You were in that classroom.
[BRANDY]: Yeah. Wow.
[CHARLES]: Do you remember that classroom?
[CHARLES]: I really, there was a lot of personalities in that classroom for sure.
[BILLY]: Charles, were you one of those personalities?
[CHARLES]: You know, I could have been, I think I was a personality to a certain extent, but I definitely remember that class. And, you know, I think along with Brandy and other students, I think it was a co-op process to make sure everything was working the way they needed to work, but I think you did a really good job, because I mean, if it wasn’t you in that class, it would’ve been hell for sure.
[BRANDY]: Well, I’ve told my husband over the years, because I only taught for about five years and that to this day was my favorite class. That classroom of boys that I only had for one semester, it was my favorite class I ever taught. And you were in it. You guys were the best class. I get, teary-eyed thinking about it. Like those are the classes that made you want to be a teacher and you guys were it for me. And I’ve told Billy the story about Dixie Chicks, like so many times, but I would love to hear your version of it.
[CHARLES]: Well, you know, nobody, so at Grand Prairie, Texas, Dixie Chicks was not part of the playlist in anybody’s iPod or CD, whatever we listened to back in the day. So —
[BILLY]: Back in the day.
[BRANDY]: What year was that?
[CHARLES]: This was probably 2003.
[BRANDY]: Yeah.
[CHARLES]: This is probably yeah, probably 2003. So we definitely listened to 50 Cent and you know Kanye West was coming out around that time. You know, one thing is, she would always play music and she started off, I remember one time when you wrapped vanilla ice, I think, you know what, when you wrapped vanilla ice, we were like, “Oh, shit.” Like, this is our favorite teacher. And you know, you were moving and like you have that look on your face and you was just going in. So really after that, after you wrapped vanilla ice, we were like, “You know what, anything she tells us to do, we are going to do it you know, play Dixie Chicks. And it, what was the song? I think it was Traveling Soldier.
[BRANDY]: I cannot remember that like, I’m in tears. I’m crying because that’s so sweet that you remember that.
[CHARLES]: Oh, I remember like it was yesterday. I remember when you played that song and everybody in the class was quiet. We all took time to listen to it and then we would always ask you to play that song again. We really liked that song.
[BRANDY]: I’m so glad that you remember it because that’s how I remember it. I remember coming into this classroom and it was all boys. I mean, there were a few girls in that one period, but there were mostly boys and you were so much fun, but I had to teach writing to freshmen boys and teach Shakespeare and the Odyssey and the Elliot and things that boys don’t want to hear about. And I remember thinking they were teaching me is what was happening. And it was just one of those moments. Sorry. It was so beautiful. So, what you didn’t know is that I was listening to 50 Cent and all of those at the club on Thursday and Friday night and coming to work on Friday, a little hung over, but in the classroom, I really wanted to like stretch you guy.
[CHARLES]: You did.
[BRANDY]: And I wanted you to hear things that you hadn’t heard before. And so I do remember playing some classicals, some Dixie Chicks. I just brought a ton of Dave Matthews. I brought a Tennessee CDs up there, and then you guys started bringing some, but I remember we were teaching poetry and how to analyze poetry. And I said, “Music is poetry.” And so I let you guys pick some music and I want to say, it could be wrong, I want to say it was you or Melvin that picked the Dixie Chicks song. And you guys like listened to it and was like, “Oh, this is poetry, man. This is poetry at its finest.”
[CHARLES]: Yeah.
[BRANDY]: And so it just started this beautiful relationship with this classroom full of boys and their open-mindedness and their willingness to listen to things that they weren’t used to, and look at it as poetry and look at it as, I don’t know. It was just a beautiful, beautiful time. And I look back on that and have really fond memories.
[BILLY]: You know, Charles, since that time, back in the the freshmen English class, where is life taking you since then? We want to know a little bit about you, and then we’re going to jump back in to this relationship that you’ve come back around to here with Brandy when she reached out to you to be on this weird podcast called Beta Male Revolution. What kind of journey have you been on since the ninth grade back at Grand Prairie?
[CHARLES]: Wow. It’s been a tremendous journey with a lot of peaks and valleys, but, you know, I’ll start, I got my degree from South Grand Prairie High School, and I had a track scholarship to Alcorn State, which is an HBCU and Mississippi. I was severely homesick and wasn’t there very long. So I came back home and went to community college for a semester and ended up eventually walking on to East Central University around 2008 to play football with a few of my friends who had gotten scholarships from South.
[BRANDY]: That’s so impressive. That’s so impressive. Keep going.
[CHARLES]: Yes, ma’am. So, you know, walked on there, didn’t have a scholarship, walked on there, eventually earned a scholarship and got my school paid for and enrolled in my master’s in my senior year. So I was still playing, doing my masters classes and 2010 or excuse me, yeah, 2010 when I was done my defensive coordinator was like, man, “You know, you make a hell of a coach,” because I was one of the leaders on the team. The guys sort of looked up to me and everything like that and, you know, I was never afraid to say what was on my mind or can you still hear me?
[BILLY]: Yeah.
[BILLY]: Yeah
[CHARLES]: Okay, yeah, never was afraid to say what’s on my mind. And, you know, I liked hanging around the office with the coaches and trying to pick their brains, so they gave me a job and I started in 2011; was my first season. That same year, I was searching on the internet because I wanted to coach in the NFL and I always knew it. Like once I got in, I was like, “I want to be an NFL coach. That’s why I’m in this.” I was always a passionate Cowboys fan and I was always passionate about the NFL. So I had called this website called a Fritz Pollard Alliance, and I found this website because I was looking at other minority coaches currently in the NFL and that happened to pop up through the search engine. So I called this website numerous times. I kept calling and calling and eventually some lady picked up and she was, you know, sounds pissed off and she was like, “Who is this?”
I’m like, “Well, my name is Charles Burk and I want to internship. I want to get in the NFL.” And she was like, “Well, this is not how that works.” And I was like, “Well, how does it work, because that’s where I want to be?” Well, she sent me the chairman’s email, John Wooten and John Wooten happened to live in Mansfield, Texas. So, you know, I sent him an email and probably about a few weeks to a month later, he calls me and he was like, “Hey, is this Charles Burk?” And I said, “Yes, sir.” And he said, “Are you a Dallas youngster?” And I said, “Yes, sir.” And he said, “I want you to come see me this weekend.” So that weekend I drove back to Dallas, I met with him and we met for about two and a half, you know, three hours and he basically educated me on the legacy of minority coaches in the NFL and the struggles for equal opportunity in the NFL.
And I think from there, my career took off because I understood not only do I want to be a coach, but I’m a small piece of the puzzle or the big picture as far as doing a good job is going to help people come in after me. And you know, so from 2011, I was at East central and then I go on to do an internship that I got through Mr. Wooten with the Detroit Lions in the summer of 2012. So at 23 years old, that was my first exposure to the NFL. So he was able to secure that internship for me and then I went to West Texas the following season, and then in 2013, I went to commerce as a secondary coach, which was my first full-time job making about 35, $36,000 a year, you know, sleeping on a mattress.
From 20, after that season, I went to Southeastern Oklahoma state where I was actually hired as the defensive coordinator at the age of 26. And I was the youngest defensive coordinator in the nation, stayed there five seasons, learned a lot, built a lot of relationships with my young men. We did a lot of great things and ended up going to another university division, to University of Arkansas, take four a month. And then the Mr. Wooten comes back into the fray. You know, we’ve always kept, there was a relationship over time and he was like, “Hey, you know, Brian Flores is going to be the next head coach of the Miami Dolphins.” He was currently at the new England Patriots playing in the super bowl. And he was like, “Well, he’s going to be the next head coach and I’m just going to send him your resume. And he’s going to look at it. I don’t know what’s going to happen.” Well, he looked at the resume, he sent it to the defensive coordinator, the defensive coordinator calls me, we do a phone interview, they fly me down there and then I’m coaching for the Miami Dolphins going into my now third season.
[BILLY]: Wow.
[BRANDY]: I mean, Holy moly, I’m just in awe, one that you called and you said, “Well, how do you do it?” And then you get a call from John Wooten.
[CHARLES]: Exactly.
[BRANDY]: Who does that? Charles Burks does that. Like you’re in South Grand Prairie and now you’re in Miami coaching The Dolphins. Like this is every kid’s dream come true. And it didn’t come easy.
[CHARLES]: No, no, no.
[BRANDY]: You know, like it wasn’t handed to you.
[BILLY]: Well, I need some coaching here because you’re the coach for the Miami Dolphins. What coach?
[CHARLES]: Quarterbacks [crosstalk].
[BILLY]: What does that mean? I’m not a football guy. I need some help here.
[CHARLES]: So, offense and defense. So the offense is trying to score points and the defense is trying to prevent the offense from scoring points. I coach on the defensive side and the offensive side, they have a skill position called the wide receivers and those guys, they kick the ball from the quarterback and they try to score a touchdown, and the defense, of course, the quarterbacks who are their primary responsibility is to defend those wide receivers who was trying to catch the ball from the quarterbacks and prevent those guys from scoring. So that’s, my job, to coach those guys up, to prevent the wide receivers from getting into the end zone.
[BILLY]: Oh, here then we go.
[BRANDY]: So Billy, if this was a chess match, these would be like, maybe [crosstalk], maybe they be the Rooks, maybe the Knights.
[BILLY]: Well, you got to give me a little slack because I don’t know much about football and the one football team I have rooted for is Arkansas Razorbacks. So I haven’t had a strong —
[CHARLES]: Yeah, that’s tough. That’s tough life.
[BILLY]: Go raise your backs. And that’s really just because I usually cheer for the team that I, the school I had to give the most money to. And that’s probably —
[BRANDY]: Right now, we’re cheering for USC Trojans in the finals.
[BILLY]: Yeah. Did you know Brandy is enrolled at USC?
[CHARLES]: Oh, okay.
[BRANDY]: Okay. So there are like a thousand questions that I want to ask
[BILLY]: Because you made the journey sound really easy. Was it that easy?
[CHARLES]: No, no, no. There’s a lot of hard work and sleepless nights. I would say, you know, in my journey, there’s a lot of self-growth that you have to meet in this industry and as a coach, because, you know, something that I learned early on as a coach, you know, when I first got in, I thought it was knowing your information, being a hard coach and pushing people, you know, the louder you are, the better the plan. And then one time in, I want to say 2013 or 2014, when I first got my defensive coordinator job, I had gotten on a freshmen so hard that I visibly saw the confidence that I affected his confidence. And, you know, once I did that, I realized that I wasn’t being myself. I was being what everybody was telling me a coach was. You know, and I never wanted to do that again. And from that point on, I was like, “I want to be myself and I want to do this. And I’m sorry. I think I went off the rails there, but it’s just —
[BILLY]: No, no. That’s exactly what we’re all about. Learning and growing through the process and not being our authentic self and you found yourself in a position being somebody you didn’t want to be you.
[CHARLES]: Exactly.
[BILLY]: You took your self-confidence down. You didn’t feel very good about yourself. And I would think in football, I mean, that’s what you’re supposed to do. You’re supposed to grab people and yell at them, right?
[CHARLES]: Yeah, no, no, no. In football, I think, you know, so constructive criticism. So, if you just take that concept, the first word in that is constructive, that means you build. And I think as coaches, if you’re not building, you’re not coaching. If you’re looking to attack, if you’re looking to tear down, coaches should not tear down. We have a platform to build men or build women, depending on the industry that you’re in. So from 2014, my philosophy has really changed into coaching the men, building them up, and when it’s wrong, we really just concentrate on how to fix the issue or whatever problem that may be. You know, not being emotional about correcting the mistakes, just approaching the mistake for what it is. And I’ve had a lot of success, really building the people around me because, I think if you’re trying to blow somebody’s candle out that make yours shine brighter. you’re not going to live a peaceful life because it’s going to, you know, I think you were making it about you, but as a coach and as a leader, you should make it about them. And that in turn will empower you.
[BRANDY]: So every leadership book that is out there, every business book that is out there says real leaders are the ones that empower the people around them. Real leaders are the ones that grow leaders. It’s not about the ego. It’s not about who’s right and who’s wrong. It’s about growing. And that’s what I’ve noticed when I’ve followed you through the years, is your number one priority obviously is games, winning. But for you, it seems like it is about developing people to be the best selves. And that’s what you do. You inspire. You coach.
[CHARLES]: Mh-mh.
[BILLY]: Yeah. Well, so you work with the best of the best. I mean, if you come into the NFL, you’ve proven yourself to be at a certain level. So, I would imagine like ego and pride kind of come along with that, like knowing you’re the best. And so how do you work with guys when they come in there and they have got this inflated, or do you see a lot of that, like this inflated sense of self, like they’re God’s gift to the game and the world should revolve around them and or does it come in with a different attitude? I mean, is it more about the team?
[CHARLES]: Yeah. You know, I think that’s a big miss-perception that people have on these guys, I think the guys that are sometimes highlighted on ESPN are that what you just described, [crosstalk]. Yeah, exactly. You know, guys in that realm. You know those guys get highlighted, those guys get a lot of exposure, but a team is built with so many different personalities and so many different people. And the majority of the guys I’ve been blessed to work with simply want to get better. And what they want to know is can you give them good information to help them get better? Because they’re the best in the world at what they do. That they’re the best and they’re not the best because they woke up and became the best footballer. You know, it’s a blue collar sport where you got to work hard to have skill.
It’s not just about being an athlete. These guys work hard at it, and they put a lot of time in it. So as far as when I, you know, initially got the job and started the relationship, I really started with the relationship as more as look, I’m here to help any way I can and not change who you are and what got you here. I’m not here to change that because I think that’s the initial way that you can lose these guys; is, “I know better. Change it. Do it my way.” It’s not, to me, that’s the wrong way to approach it. It’s, you know, or the way that I approach it personally is, “Look, this is what you do well, I think, or not I think. But there’s things that I can help you with to take what you do well and make it great, but it was not going to work if we don’t have a great attitude, a diligent work ethic.
And then we have to be able to respond to good and bad adversity when that comes up. Because I think, you know, when they go out and they play, well, you have to respond to the good diversity when everybody’s going to be praising and telling you how good you are, because those same people, when you play poorly, those same people are going to try to tear you down. So I think there has to be a great balance. And I think a good coach understands that and is willing to work with those guys with that, and not really see these guys as just simply players. But I mean, there are people and they go through ups and downs and you got to be there for them.
[BILLY]: Yeah. Yeah. Well, I love that you mentioned adversity because you mentioned something early on, you know, work ethic, good attitude, but then there’s an adversity piece and you talked about, I’m sure there was some adversity when it came to being a minority coach and kind of you know, a struggle there. We like talking about real things here and leveling the playing field for all people, and you’re in the NFL. So what was that process like for you getting there? Is the playing field more level than it used to be? Is it getting there? Is it there yet?
[CHARLES]: I would say early on in my coaching career, my biggest hurdle was working in an environment and an environment where the majority of your coworkers were middle to late age, white men. And they treated you as a black coach, whether then a coach.
[BRANDY]: Tell me what that is. What does that mean to be treated as a black coach and not as a coach.
[CHARLES]: How can I say this?
[BRANDY]: Just say it.
[CHARLES]: Well, so, okay when you’re dealing with recruiting, for example. So, you’re in a meeting and they’re asking you about how to talk to this person, this person’s mom, instead of saying, you know, that kid’s mom as a woman who has a child, but, but she’s a black mom as though she’s different from another woman who loves the children. You know, having to have those conversations, or whenever, you know, a player has an issue, it’s good and granted get on the players, but, and the players upset, but since, you know, they don’t have that, relate-ability with the player and it’s not because that player is black and they’re white. It’s just because they refused to talk to them and see them, see him as a, as a human instead of their black player.
And this is something that I had struggled with early on until I became a defensive coordinator. And I really worked with a guy Boatta Barry that, me and him had a lot of talks about this in my experiences. I would say one coach that I worked with in the past, straight up told me that white coaches are better than black coaches. And this is, I’m 23 years old at the time. This was my second year of coaching. And the reason that was brought up, because I would just hear the way he would talk about other coaches that happened to be black about, “This guy was unprofessional, or this guy wasn’t very good.” And I asked the question, I was like, “You know what? They have something all in common and they’re black. Like, what is this about?” And then I asked him, I was like, “Well, do you just think that white coaches are better than the black coaches? And he was like, yeah, in my opinion.
So think things like that really were hard to stomach, even, I mean, when coach was like, you know, why do black people like eliminating the whole, I remember the whole staff, like laugh, you know, like it just a lot of, you know, a lot of guys who are sitting there laughing and everything, and then once I got upset about it really looked at me as though I can’t, I don’t have a sense of humor. I don’t know how to joke around, but I didn’t grow up joking like that. You know, being, when I was growing up and where I’m from being black, wasn’t a sense of comedy. You know, you just went to school. I mean, nobody, you know what I’m saying?
I can’t even really get into that frame of thought or frame of mind, but those are some of the things that I really had to overcome and really understand that it’s, they’re very small, there are man who think like that, and it’s not all of them, but there’s a, you know, if you look at, if you just look at the landscape of coaches throughout the nation, and you look at the lack of opportunity that minorities have, as opposed to other coaches, to me, it’s evident, or even if a one black coach gets fired, you know, his room to have mistakes or his room to really build a program is a lot shorter that, you know, that ropes a lot shorter than it is for other guys that go out and get a chance to win.
And if they don’t do well, they get fired. And then you’ll see those guys go back and get another job, you know, within six months. But for us, to me, if you get fired, that fall from grace is a lot steeper. And you know, to me, that’s not an opinion if you just, I don’t have the numbers right in front of me, but it’s very evident.
[BILLY]: Yeah. Pretty good stats to back that up. So, you know, here on this little podcast or a little corner of the world, we try to do what we can to listen and to learn and to grow as people and help be agents of change and come alongside people that are out there trying to do this work in the world. So when we look at change, from the NFL to the boardroom of a company, to a college, to a high school, to a classroom like Brandy taught and well, you know, what can we do as humans, as people to help change the narrative?
[BRANDY]: Yeah. What do we say to the people listening everywhere that say, “I don’t see color. Everybody has the same opportunity if they just pull themselves up by their bootstraps.” Like, what do you say to that?
[CHARLES]: Yeah, that’s, like this statement is so egregious. It’s hard to sum up. It’s hard to sum up the history of the nation because you can’t talk about racism without talking about America. You can’t talk about America without talking about racism. And for us as humans, living together in this society as intellectual beings, we have to understand that racism, the lie of racism, that caste system of racism has a choke hold on the way we think about our neighbor and has a choke hold on the ability for us to move forward as a human race, not black or white. Because there’s nothing about black or white that has any validity or any truth to it. It was simply created to create the other for the majority to stay the majority and really self preservation at the end of the day. And I think that as humans, when we see these things, when we see these atrocities and we turn a blind eye, and I talked about this the other day, the German people turned a blind eye and we saw what happened.
[BRANDY]: And now when you go to Germany, have you heard what they’re doing and how they’re putting plaques up in places where people were killed?
[CHARLES]: Yeah.
[BRANDY]: And they’re saying, “This is where so-and-so and their family died.” And the German people are saying that, “We did this and we want to honor those lives so that we never go back and do that again.” And — go ahead.
[CHARLES]: No, and I’m sorry. And, because I’ve never been to Germany, I’ve always heard this like, that flag would never be seen in Germany again. You know what I’m saying? Like, I’ve heard that like the people will like, they’re embarrassed by it, they keep it away, they really even hate talking about it. But from an American standpoint, you know, when I just looked on the TV, again, as a citizen of this country, you know, my family has been here, documented over 200, 300 years, as a citizen of this country, I looked on TV and I saw the Confederate flag in the Capitol building. That would never happen in Germany and it would never happen in a society that’s moved forward. And that showed me that we have not moved forward. It’s a very scary showing an example of what’s to come and it doesn’t have to be that way. It doesn’t have to be that way, because we all have a choice now.
[BILLY]: Yeah, well, because you spoke to creating these constructs, these false things to create another that separates us.
[CHARLES]: Exactly.
[BILLY]: To create fear and to create economic difference and —
[BRANDY]: To create race. I mean, race is a construct.
[CHARLES]: It’s a social construct.
[BRANDY]: It’s a social construct.
[CHARLES]: Yes, there’s nothing real about race. It’s a caste system that we as people, because as people, the power of belief, it’s amazing. So when we give belief to what’s false, it becomes truth. And now it’s embedded in the American psyche that, you know, and I saw this today when I was walking around that when you feel like, when you start to protest racism, people think that you’re protesting America. But you know, I think the everyday people we’re just really fighting for the moral soul of America. I mean, like on this, talking about this and having conversations about this, we just care.
[BILLY]: Yeah.
[BRANDY]: And back to Germany when I went backpacking across Europe I spoke with people and my uncle who lives there and it’s the German people, and I can’t say it for a whole, but what I experienced is they were remorseful for what had happened. They were sorry for what had happened, and they never wanted to go back. But first they had to admit something happened.
[CHARLES]: Exactly.
[BRANDY]: And I think here, we’re not willing to look at ourselves yet and say something is wrong. I think there are certain people that are in groups that are, there’s a large majority of people who are still under this illusion, that everything’s fine. And it’s fine in their world, but they’re not looking outside of their world and they’re not saying something is wrong to be remorseful of it, to honor it and say, “We did this. We did this and we haven’t yet to say we’re sorry to make it better.” There is a small group of people I think that are extreme and that’s what we’ve seen but there are groups of people that are just silent and not saying anything. And I don’t know, at some point, like when we can admit we have been a racist country. We have done wrongdoing. And if we’re not willing to admit it, it can’t get better. And we still have this, I don’t see color. Everybody has the same opportunities, and we’re not willing to self-reflect and look because we can be very arrogant.
[BILLY]: Well, and like Charles spoke to, then you get put into this category of anti-American in and that you don’t love your country, but it’s always got to be either or. Why can’t it be both and why can’t, you know, I think there’s rumblings of hope, you know. Growing up in East, Texas as a white kid I should probably still be completely asleep, but it’s been stories of people that have come along and been patient with me and showed me things have helped me wake up to certain atrocities that make me want to say, “If I’m just one of the few, I’m sorry, and what can I do?” I don’t, maybe nothing. Maybe just show up and who knows, but, and that’s what we’re looking for. We’re looking for the hope, we’re looking for the direction, and where to go from here.
[BRANDY]: We’re looking for legacy, you know, like, that’s what we get to hear when we hear you speak. We hear John Wooten talk with you and say, “Hey, listen, minority coaches.” Like we’ve got to grow, people. We’ve got to grow this and we’ve got to leave this legacy. And you’re part of that legacy. I want to know what are good coaches telling people? What answers are you given to your players right now?
[CHARLES]: You know, I don’t know if it’s answers that I’m giving to the guys, but it’s really, you know, one thing that is funny that you talked about when we would play music in class, I actually play different kinds of music with the guys. Like, I’m a big fan of jazz now and, you know —
[BILLY]: Do you play the Dixie Chicks?
[CHARLES]: No, I haven’t, but [crosstalk]
[BRANDY]: A little [inaudible 00:35:00] James. Are you playing Coltrane?
[CHARLES]: Coltrane. I’m playing Coltrane. And when the guys here you know, at first they’re like, “Man, coach, what are you doing?” But then they start to listen to it just like your did with us. They start to listen to it and then we, I talk about the music and the emotion that spurred the music, and then we have got into different conversations. But the best thing about it is we’ve had conversation and I’ve listened to those guys because one thing that I always find interesting is, you know, in this whole fight for change, everybody looks at like the athlete.
And to me, it’s why are we looking at the politicians or the lawyers, the lawmakers. You know, we were putting such an onus on, you know, these guys speaking up for our community when that’s not necessarily those guys, should be their responsibility, that if they’re doing it, they’re doing it at the kindness of their heart. But there are so many different avenues that we’re working in as black people, that everybody has a platform. And that’s the thing. It’s just not an NFL coach that has a platform. If you are a citizen in this country, you have a platform, and then it’s, what are you doing? You know, you’re the answer and your answer is your action. Your answer is how you treat people. To me that’s the answer. How do you treat people? You don’t have … okay.
[BRANDY]: You can, no, I’m sorry, but you can be nice to people all day long. You know, I can smile at the person, the black gentleman behind the counter at Walmart and smile and say, “I’m not racist.” And I think that niceties only go so far.
[CHARLES]: A hundred percent.
[BRANDY]: I think we hear that all the time is like, from the other side of like, “Well, I have black friends.”
[CHARLES]: Oh my God, that —
[BRANDY]: You know I’m nice to everybody because we’re all the same.
[BILLY]: Go ahead and be vulnerable. I’ve said that before and it’s a journey. It’s a learning —
[BRANDY]: But it’s more like, it’s, like you said, it’s more than being nice. I’m sorry to interrupt.
[BILLY]: Well, and I’ll go back and brag on Brandy a little bit, you know, you can go back and talk about your classroom. You know, she always talks fondly about her comic Grand Prairie, and she tells the story over and over again about this classroom that got billed as I quote, “a classroom full of bad kids.” And I have all these years never known the demographic makeup of what that classroom was because she never spoke in those terms with me. It was just a classroom of amazing kids that people didn’t give the opportunity to get to know. And she’s taught me and introduced me to people that have taught me. And to me, this has been, it’s fascinating and it’s full of tender-hearted moments and then painful moments of waking up to my own bias and then trying my darndest to change and failing some days, but being willing to admit. Sometimes I’ve just got ignorance in me based on the way I was growing up. But I’ll gladly change it if it reduces the collective suffering in the world around me.
[CHARLES]: Yeah. I think oftentimes like, so you know what our class, I can’t remember exactly, but Ms., you know, Brandy was probably the only, it’s probably two or three white kids in the class.
[BILLY]: You almost said Miss Hedrick, didn’t you?
[CHARLES]: Yeah, I almost did. For us with like that never, I mean, that was just our world that never really occurred Ms. Hedrick, you know, I’m sorry, there it is.
[BRANDY]: It is okay.
[BILLY]: I’m Mr. Hedrick, to tell you the truth,
[CHARLES]: But that’s just what it was. So like whether, the demographics of the class, that didn’t matter to us because we were living in it. And I give one example. So I’m recruiting. It’s 2012 and there’s a town called DeSoto. So DeSoto is suburban Dallas, the demographics is predominantly African-American and it’s upper middle class to, I mean, these families bring in, it’s a very nice community. Well, we’re recruiting and you know, I bring up a kid from DeSoto and one of the coaches is like, “Oh, from DeSoto, that’s the hood, right?” And I sort of looked at him and I’m like, “What makes you say that? You know these kids live in houses with gated communities and you got to type in codes to get into their houses and everything like that.” And I was like, “The hood?”
He was like, “Yeah, the hood. You know, those kids are hard.” And so all of these titles, all of these labels he’s given to this school and he’s given to these kids simply because they’re black. And that’s the danger that we live under, no matter if I’m an NFL coach. When I go outside and people see me, they see the stereotype of whatever violence that has been portrayed to them about us or upon us, whether it’s TV and whatever outlet that you may see that not saying that we’re void of anything that any other human in the world is not void of. Everybody, everybody, every human, every group of people is capable of anything. But in this country, when I walk, it’s not about how many, I have two degrees, but there’s been places where I walk and I’ve seen women grab their son or grab their kid and tighten their purse up.
It’s not because I’ve laid hundreds of kids or mentored hundreds of kids. It’s not because of that. It’s not because I have degrees. It’s simply because I’m black. And back to what I was talking about with my players, that’s a very heavy burden to put on a 22 and 23 year old to understand that, because a lot of times fully, unless you sit and study this, this thing that has a grip on our country, you don’t fully comprehend the depth of racism and institutional racism. Well, we, as humans are institutionalized to be divided. So, and like I said, that was going back, and I’m proud of my players and I’m proud of everybody speaking up, but this, as much as America has put in to implementing racism, we, and moving forward have to work as hard to fight against it.
[BRANDY]: Hmm. I’m trying yeah, that’s heavy. It gives me pause, you know, when I think about, when I look back on that classroom in 2003. It gives me pause because I want to think what you said that burden that every black person is carrying, that they have to be a representative essentially, of their race to show that we are good, we are worthy and we are normal. You know, like that’s a —
[BILLY]: And our kids will never —
[BRANDY]: Yeah. Our kids will never understand that and —
[BILLY]: Well, hopefully they’ll understand. They just won’t have to care —
[BRANDY]: They won’t experience it. You know, and hearing you speak about that adds another layer of this intersectionality that I don’t have. And this expectation, like you explained it, that every young man walking down the street has to be extra careful where they jog. You know, like they have to be this representative of the whole black race to show that I’m safe. I’m good. And these unconscious biases that we hold, that we can’t even talk about.
[BILLY]: Well, and when, like you said, we’ve all got a little bit of center in sight and all of us.
[CHARLES]: That’s what makes us human.
[BILLY]: We’re all but the burden to be carried by our fellow neighbors —
[BRANDY]: That keep us apart.
[BILLY]: Is a bit heavier. And we have to, I think, see that and acknowledge that. And well, you took us there today and —
[BRANDY]: Yeah, I talked to Charlie beforehand and I’m like, “You know, you’re young and single. Let’s talk about a little bit of dating and that’s not where, it’s better.
[BILLY]: Just thank you Charles Burk for, you know, I think Miami Dolphins, cool. We get to talk to this you know, big town football coach, but you took us to a place that helps us wake up a little more from our slumber, open our eyes, a little wider to the things around us, to walk a little softer and be a little more aware. And I want to say thank you.
[BRANDY]: Yeah, thank you.
For taking time out of your evening. And as, we begin to wrap up because we’ve packed so much in here and it won’t resolve itself. I think it’s just in the conversations that we have with one another and we’re just willing to go there. Let’s just talk about it. Let’s talk about what people haven’t been talking about, the people are afraid to talk about, or whatever their own stuff is, their own guilt or whatever. Let’s get rid of all that bullshit and let’s just have real conversations with people around these real topics. So maybe just, maybe we can move forward a little bit. As a coach of the Miami Dolphins up into this point in your life, what’s the best piece of coaching advice/life advice you’ve been given?
[CHARLIE]: Uh, by my mother. My mother, you know, I’m getting chills just thinking about it, but my mother would, before I would sometimes go to school, she would like grab my hands and she would look me in my eyes and she would say, “You can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens you.” And you know, whether you believe in God, whether you don’t, but to have somebody whose entire like, like her love that she had for me and how intense she was just for me to go to school, that is more stronger than any advice that anybody’s ever given me. Because that gave me confidence. My mother, like my confidence comes from my mother and you know, she’s not here with us anymore and I definitely miss her, but I am who I am as a man, I am who I am as a coach, as a brother, as a friend because of my mother.
And it just started with little moments like that, and I’ll never forget it. And it happened a lot and sometimes I would even think it was weird. I’m like, “Man, mom, you’re pretty serious right now.” You know what I’m saying? I’m about to go to school, but I’m so thankful because as I’ve gone through coaching, I’ve seen kids who didn’t have that love at home. We didn’t have a lot of money, but I was, I was rich because of her. I realized that now. I was wealthy because I had love. And I think if somebody’s given you love at the house, especially from your parents, you got a chance. So she gave me a chance.
[BILLY]: Yeah. Well, in here at Beta Male Revolution, I’ve got my coffee cup in my hand. I’m going to raise it to strong mothers and strong wives and strong women who help us be better men and teach us and call out in us the thing sometimes we can’t see and the confidence we need to go out and help change things in the world.
[BRANDY]: I’m proud of you. I’m just so proud of you.
[BILLY]: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much. I’m proud of you too, for sure.
[BRANDY]: That’s all I got. I can’t do it. I can’t keep it together.
[BILLY]: Thank you so much for joining us today, Charles, and we can’t wait to talk to you again. And I can say as of today I am a Miami Dolphins fan. I may not know much about football and I may not represent you all well, but I’m going to be wearing your gear and rooting you on. I can’t wait till we get to come out and go to games.
[BRANDY]: I can’t wait to watch you on the sidelines.
[CHARLIE]: Oh man. Look thank you guys for sure. I really appreciate the time. And Ms. Hedrick, I want to tell you something, You know when you taught Shakespeare and when you taught us the ILEAD and everything like that, I promise you when those books first hit, I was like, “Nobody wants to hear this, but you have made it so cool.” Especially with my crew and you had made it so cool that we all really just got down with it. And you remember, you used to always say, [inaudible 00:49:00].” You remember that?
[BRANDY]: I do from the movie.
[CHARLIE]: Yeah, from the movie you used to always say that, and I’m telling you, I can still hear you saying it right now. And it just, we would die laughing just the way you used to say that. So thank you for sure.
[BRANDY]: You guys taught me, that’s for sure, man. We could do this for hours. All right. This is the first time we’ve talked to Charles Burks, but not the last.
[BILLY]: Not the last. We’ll talk to you sooner friend.
[BILLY]: Are you ready to find freedom to be yourself as a beta male. Do you want permission and tools to be your best beta? Are you ready to join the revolution and define your strength as a beta? If you want to be comfortable in your own skin and be the most authentic beta male, then our free Beta Male Revolution course is for you. Sign up for free at
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