Standing near the Iwo Jima Memorial and Arlington National Cemeter, the Netherlands Carillon has one of the best views in the area, overlooking the Potomac River towards Washington, D.C..

Don Warren

Meet Don

Retiring to a New Game Plan

When your first act involved reaching the pinnacle of your sport not once but four times, what’s next? If you’re Don Warren, you give back by helping a group of high school boys reach their pinnacle.

Don spent his entire 14 seasons in the NFL with the Washington Redskins as a tight end and member of the famous offensive line, the “Hogs.” After four super bowl appearances and three wins, Don officially hung up his cleats in 1992.

Life after the NFL proved a little too quiet, though. At his wife Irene’s urging, Don began working at Centreville High School as a member of the security team. Of course, it didn’t take long for the folks there to realize athletic greatness was in their midst, and soon Don was coaching football and baseball.

During his playing days, Don says he wasn’t the most talented guy on the field, but he vowed that no one would outwork him. He brought that same ethic to coaching, earning the respect of players and parents alike.

In his tenure at Centreville, he coached the football team all the way to three regional championships and ultimately the AAA state championship in 2000. Don calls seeing the boys’ excitement and sharing in that thrill the highlight of his FCPS career. Having two of his sons on the championship team made the feat even more meaningful. In fact, all three of his boys played for Centreville and went on to earn football scholarships to Virginia Tech.

After several years of coaching, the lure of the NFL drew Don back. This time in the role of pro scout. As Don tells it, after deciding to investigate the possibilities of returning to the league, he left a voicemail with Washington Head Coach Joe Gibbs’ secretary. In true Gibbs’ fashion, within 20 minutes, Coach Gibbs was calling to offer him a position in the front office. Don spent several years scouting for the Redskins before heading to the Carolina Panthers to scout for Head Coach Ron Rivera. When Rivera moved to Washington, Don came along. He officially retired from scouting in May 2022.

Don Warren in football uniform

Everyone said I’d be bored in retirement. Not a chance! I’m loving it!

Don and Irene at Lake Anna with their grandchildren
Don and Irene at Lake Anna with their grandchildren

His third retirement has proven to be the charm. Don laughingly recalls, “Everyone said I’d be bored. Not a chance! I’m loving it!” There’s always something to do and if it doesn’t get done today, it’ll get done tomorrow. His main goals now are to enjoy life and travel. And having an extra pension helps. Although his ERFC benefit isn’t huge, Don and Irene use it to treat themselves to nice dinners out and other extras. They’ve also gotten a good start on travel with recent trips to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico; Southern California where Don grew up; and Rhode Island. And this September, they’ll return to Don’s alma mater, San Diego State University, to attend a game at the school’s new stadium.

After spending the last several years sitting in front of a screen watching endless hours of game film, Don vowed to get back in shape. So he bought a bike, and he and Irene enjoy cycling throughout their Clifton neighborhood and at their second home in Lake Anna. He’s also joined the pickleball craze. And with a pickleball court being only about a quarter the size of a tennis court, he stays active without overdoing it—his football-sized reach can cover half the court.

While he’s only a few months into this new game plan, it’s fair to call it, and Don, a winner.