Former Green Wave standout and longtime NFL player and coach Lionel Washington returns to his alma mater as a co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach for Tulane in 2012.
A native of nearby Lutcher, Washington spent 27 years in the NFL as a player or coach, all on the defensive side of the football. He played 15 seasons in the NFL as a defensive back and was a secondary coach for 12 years following retirement.
Washington, 51, spent 10 seasons with the Green Bay Packers as a nicklebacks/cornerbacks coach from 1999 to 2008. He spent two years on the Oakland Raiders staff in 2009 and 2010 and was the defensive backs coach on Marty Schottenheimer's staff of the United Football League's Virginia Destroyers in 2011.
As an NFL coach, he tutored several of the NFL's best defenders, including Packer cornerbacks Al Harris and former Raider Charles Woodson, who earned Pro Bowls berths under Washington's tutelage. In 2005, Washington's defensive backs helped Green Bay lead the league in fewest passing yards allowed per game (167.5) as well as fewest passing first downs (143).
During his tenure with the Raiders, cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha earned a Pro Bowl spot, safety Tyvon Branch broke the 100-tackle mark (124, which led all NFL defensive backs) and cornerback Chris Johnson led the team in passes defensed (18) in 2009.
Washington's 15 seasons in the NFL is one of the longest playing careers for a defensive back in pro football history. He played in 205 NFL games with 165 starts and recorded 37 interceptions, returning four for touchdowns. In his career, Washington intercepted at least one pass in 13 of his 15 pro seasons, with at least three in five different years, including a career-high eight as a rookie in 1983.
After playing four years with the Cardinals (1983-86), Washington was traded to the Los Angeles Raiders in 1987 and played for the Raiders through 1994. He spent two years (1995-96) with the Broncos before returning to the Raiders in 1997 for one final season.
A four-year letterwinner for the Wave from 1979-82, Washington helped Tulane to 26 wins and appearances in the Liberty Bowl (1979) and Hall of Fame Bowl (1980) during his career. He served as team captain during his senior season of 1982 and was a fourth round choice (103rd overall) in the 1983 NFL Draft by the St. Louis (now Arizona) Cardinals.
Washington and his wife Karen have two daughters: Lakaia and Jordan and one son: Deron, a professional basketball player who was selected in the second round of the 2008 NBA Draft by the Detroit Pistons following a stellar college career at Virginia Tech.