Pierce is new coach at Long Beach Poly

 Long Beach Poly, a 19-time Southern Section champion, introduced former NFL player Antonio Pierce as its new football coach on Thursday.

Let's just say there's skeptics whether Pierce, who has no coaching experience, was the best choice for a program that's considered almost every season to be one of the teams to beat in the Pac-5 Division.

For one, Pierce is going to continue as an ESPN analyst, which will take him to Bristol, Conn., on occasion. He's supposed to have assistant coaches run the program when he's gone.

But Principal Joe Carlson said, "We wouldn't have hired him if we didn't think he was the right guy for the right position."

Added Carlson: "He's handled a lot of little things in his life, and this is no different. He has the time, he has the attitude, he has the commitment. He's a man who's a leader."

Pierce certainly can handle scrutiny and attention, having been a linebacker for the New York Giants. In 2008, he was present when Plaxico Burress accidently shot himself in the leg at a nightclub. Pierce was the one who drove Burress to a hospital.

He has a son attending Poly and has run camps in the area. He's a Paramount High grad who made a positive impression during the interview process. He replaces Raul Lara, who was the coach for 13 years and won five Pac-5 titles. Like Lara, he'll be a walk-on coach. Poly did not have a full-time teaching position available when it advertised the position.

Pierce was a starter for the Giants' Super Bowl team in 2007.

"I know how much it means to kids to see somebody who came from their situation and who's made it that far," Pierce told ESPN.com.

Eric.sondheimer@latimes.com