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Tom Nalen Thinks Timing Of Xanders Firing ‘Kind Of Weird’

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Tom Nalen (credit: CBS)

Tom Nalen (credit: CBS)

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DENVER (CBS4) – Former Bronco Tom Nalen says he’s dropped 65 pounds since his playing days as a Pro Bowl center for Denver. He was the special guest on Xfinity Monday Live!, just hours after Broncos general manager Brian Xanders was let go.

“Thirty (pounds) were pretty quick and then 35 took some time; a lot of working out,” Nalen said. “This is much closer to my natural weight than my NFL weight … my knees feel better, my body feels better.”

Nalen then gave his thoughts on the firing of Xanders.

“I’m not surprised that he left. I think the timing of it is kind of weird. Why not let him go after the season?” Nalen said. “John (Elway) is making the decisions. What his role was? I don’t know. It’s just surprising with the timing of it after the draft, after he worked for the team up to that point.”

Elway has had to make some tough decisions since becoming the executive vice president of football operations for the Broncos. Some of them have been unpopular, such as trading Tim Tebow.

“John is a winner. John sees Peyton Manning available and, you know, you go for him,” Nalen said. “Anytime you can upgrade your position, you do it. That’s the position he knows well and Tim Tebow; he didn’t see a guy who could win consistently in this league.”

J. D. Walton is currently the center for the Broncos and will be making some adjustments with Manning, who’s famous for making lots of audibles and will bring a different language to the line of scrimmage.

“Jeff Saturday was a great center for the Colts. Peyton and Jeff, I think, were pretty in synch. Jeff Saturday seemed like almost a quarterback out there as well,” Nalen said. “I’m sure J.D. is getting to know things that Peyton likes to do and the verbiage. But it’s a lot of mental learning that he’s going to have to pick up.”

With the tragedy of the suicide of Junior Seau last week, people are now linking that to brain damage players can sustain through concussions while playing the game. Nalen says there most likely is a connection.

“It just seems to be too many guys that seem to be killing themselves or dying young and playing football.”

Nalen said he’s worried about his own well-being.

“I do crosswords all of the time, and when I can’t do crosswords, you know something is wrong … I feel like I know so much more about concussions now from coaching high school football … luckily now they’ve finally realized there may be a connection to it and they seem to be taking the right steps to protect the players after they’ve had a concussion.”

Nalen said helmets are a joke.

“When I played I thought the helmets prevented concussions; I thought that was the purpose of them. But I think the helmets just prevent a cracked skull. That’s all they do …. they can make them as good as they want, they’ll never be concussion-proof.”

Nalen doesn’t beat around the bush when he talks about what he wants to do now that he’s retired from the NFL — he wants to coach.

“I’m in high school right now. I’d like to coach at a higher level. I love coaching the kids that I work with, but I’d like to coach at a higher level.”

Nalen coached at Denver South High School but is now moving on to Aurora Central High School as an offensive line coach and possibly defensive line as well.

Watch more of the video with Nalen in the Xfinity Monday Live! section.

- By Matthew J. Buettner, CBSDenver.com

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