CJ Anderson takes the helm at Monte Vista

Focus on building program, academic success

This Super Bowl champion is back to the sport he loves after a short hiatus, and this time he is directing traffic, not weaving through it. 

Former NFL running back Cortelle Javon “CJ” Anderson was appointed head coach of the Monte Vista High School Varsity football program June 15. He enters with the opportunity to help Monte Vista bounce back from the 0-6 season they had last spring.

Anderson said Monte Vista was not where he thought his first head coaching job would be. In fact, he said he didn’t even know it was open, but he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to coach in the “best football league in the Bay Area.” 

“The man who was supposed to take this job called me and said he’s taking another one,” Anderson said. “He asked me if I wanted the job and I said, hell yeah.”

Anderson said he wants to take Monte Vista back to a perennial contender in Northern California like they once were. But he also wants to preach the importance of academics. He said he doesn’t want the kids to make the same mistakes he made.

Anderson said his childhood was one with many struggles. The drug-filled streets of inner city Vallejo where he grew up would be tough on anyone. Never meeting his biological father, Anderson and his brother were raised by his mom and his grandmother. He said he has seen many of his friends go down the wrong path and wants to pass these lessons on to his players today. 

“I try to tell the kids, not everything in life is big houses in Blackhawk and gated communities,” Anderson said.                                      

Anderson played four years of varsity football at Jesse M. Bethel High School. By his senior year, he had already played in a Regional Championship game and was named Vallejo Times Player of the year. He ran for 4,000 yards rushing and scored over 40 touchdowns. But stats aside, he received no offers coming out of high school. 

“I didn’t receive any offers because of grades. I had plenty of interests, just not the academics,” Anderson said. “I think I graduated high school with a 2.3 GPA.”

At Laney College in Oakland, he was named first team Junior College All American. And there Anderson said he began prioritizing academics.

“Academics became super important when I got to Laney college,” he said. “That’s what I tell these kids: academics is a huge part of life and can set you up for success after your playing career.”

That change followed him when he next attended UC Berkeley. There, he excelled in the classroom, graduating with a 3.8 GPA. 

His play on the field was good enough for him to have a chance to get selected in the 2013 NFL draft. Unfortunately, Anderson didn’t receive one phone call from any team during the draft, making him an undrafted free agent.

But “when the draft was over, I had phone calls from three teams,” Anderson said. “I chose the [Denver] Broncos, because I thought it would be the best fit for me and it ended up working out.” 

Anderson enjoyed a profitable eight-year career, rushing for just under 3,500 yards and scoring 22 touchdowns. In 2014, he had the honor to play in the Pro Bowl. 

Anderson said a life-changing moment occurred at Super Bowl 50 in 2016. The game was played at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara with his whole family in attendance. With 3:08 left on the play clock in the 4th quarter, Anderson scored on a two-yard touchdown rush that sealed the 24-10 Super Bowl victory for the Broncos. 

“Winning the championship was the greatest thing I’ve done besides having my daughter.” Anderson said.

Appearing in games for the Carolina Panthers, Los Angeles Rams, and Detroit Lions, he retired from the NFL on Sept. 18, 2020, almost a year after his final game. “I retired because I wanted to spend more time with my daughter,” Anderson said. “I completely missed the first 8-9 months of her life. She’s a priority.”

Anderson said his experience is helping him become a better coach. For example, he was able to show Monte Vista varsity quarterback Dylan Devitt texts between himself and hall of fame QB Peyton Manning.      

“When you can talk to our quarterback about how Peyton Manning did it and he can physically see text messages from him, he’ll be able to learn from the best,” Anderson said.

The results are showing. After going winless last season, Monte Vista Varsity football is undefeated at the time of this report. 

Although his goal as a coach is to reach the collegiate level, his time at Monte Vista will be a valuable first step, he said, vowing to continue to preach how important academics are and doing his absolute best to put Monte Vista back on the map. 

“I’m excited to get to work with these boys,” Anderson said. 

This article was written originally for The Stampede, the student newspaper of Monte Vista High School in Danville.