Written by Emmanual Benton
Landover, MD (Oct. 11, 2013) - On Tuesday, Washington Redskins’ players: Joshua Morgan, Alfred Morris, Josh Wilson and Darrel Young formed a panel to discuss numerous topics with local high school football players.
4th & Life program, sponsored by Coca-Cola, focuses on preparing students for life after football. By bringing local high school athletes together with professional players from the Washington Redskins, the young people were able to learn firsthand about what it takes to be successful both on and off the field as scholar-athletes and productive members of their local communities. Redskins alumnus Doc Walker emceed the event, touching on topics such as coping with peer pressure, staying healthy and planning for their academic and athletic futures. The forum provided the high school athletes with an opportunity to engage in open and wide-ranging dialogue with Redskins players.
“A man that can learn is a man that can succeed,” Rick Doc Walker said in his opening statement to the high school football players.
The old school and unfiltered Doc Walker later said, “There’s a lot of tragedies going on. It’s real life, and as soon as these young people understand it and they get it — they’re on the internet — it’s not like my generation. These kids need to understand the truth. In order for them to be successful, they got to apply themselves. They need to make good decisions. We’re not here to baby them, because they don’t want to be babied. They think they’re grown, so I treat them that way. And I expect them to do the things to respect their parents and teachers that have sacrificed so much to be where they are.”
The panel discussion brought reality to the fact that not everyone makes it to the National Football League. Doc Walker says their goal isn’t to crush dreams but to bring reality to their attention. “Those that succeed will succeed without us,” he said. “But it’s the middle of the pack — I want them to be realistic about it. You don’t just have to be the player. You can be a broadcaster. There’s nothing wrong with being in TV or radio. There’s nothing wrong with being in film. There’s nothing wrong with scouting — I wanted to be an owner. I don’t want them to just want to be the player — I want them to be the boss.”
I must say that was an epic exchange from Doc Walker. It was ‘run through a wall’ worthy.
One question that Doc Walker posed to the Redskins players was, “were there football players better than you on the high school or collegiate level?” Each player quickly responded saying there was plenty of guys who were better at football. But most of those guys didn’t make it to the NFL.
Redskins’ receiver Joshua Morgan summed it up the best, “I wasn’t a football player. I was an athlete that got lucky to make it.”
Fullback Darrel Young talked about how he was initially cut his rookie season in 2009 when Washington picked him up as an undrafted free agent linebacker. “I had to sit out of football for a year,” he said. “For a couple months I trained, but reality set that I needed to pay bills and do something with myself. So I ended up working at Finish Line.” In 2010, coach Mike Shanahan brought Darrel Young back to the Redskins and moved him to fullback. He’s been a starter every since that move. But Young hasn’t forgot about his experience away from football. In fact, Darrel Young says he still works at Finish Line a few days in the off-season.
Running Back Alfred Morris talked about the importance of doing well in school and developing quality character. “Character is doing right when no one is watching,” he said. “There’s enough negative in the world, I always said I just want to be one less.”
“When I was growing up, having an NFL player tell me something — it was a word that I took to my heart,” said Cornerback Josh Wilson. “I just wanted these kids to know that they have to be competitors in everything in life — not just at football, but in school and the game of life.”
When asked how he thought the message was received, Rick Doc Walker said, “It was received very well — the question is, how long will it be retained?” “It’s like a workout, you don’t lose weight in one workout. This has got to be an ongoing thing. I didn’t meet a pro my whole life as a high school player. But I don’t feel sorry for them at all — you don’t have to have this. But if you have this, then it should be used as a platform.”
Schools in attendance represented local cities/counties including Loudoun, Prince George’s, Morgan County (WV) and the District of Columbia.
“In schools across our community, participating in athletic programs is one of the best ways young people can be active. Through sports, scholar-athletes learn lessons about principles – commitment, teamwork, preparation, etc. – that they can apply in everyday life. The 4th & Life program highlights these lessons in a very real and powerful way through the voices of professional athletes. Bringing scholar-athletes together with some of their favorite Redskins players sets the stage for an exciting day of learning, fun and inspiration,” said Michael Golder, Vice President for Sales, Maryland Market Unit, Coca-Cola Refreshments.
For more information, visit http://proplayerinsiders.com/.