There is very little media attention put on positive stories about NFL players who are great role models.
On the contrary, there is an obsessive amount of media attention given to players who fail off the field, whether it’s drugs, sexual assault or other transgressions.
What do you tell your child when they are bombarded by the story about Aaron Hernandez, a football hero accused of murder? How do you think something so awful is affecting their spirit? How is this teaching them about the importance of values and character?
Our children are so impressionable. Hearing how their sports heroes have committed horrible acts is certain to affect them.
It is time we recognize the multitude of professional athletes and those who impact our children’s lives each day are high-integrity individuals. Their stories are the ones that need to be told.
When I was a young teenager in high school, I attended a peaceful demonstration in Boston to end violent /disruptive demonstrations. The event was hosted by Boston Patriots star running back, the late Jim Nance.
Thousands of people were there on that beautiful spring day. I was awe-struck by how Jim Nance had us all in the palm of his hands. He was so inspiring, charismatic, warm and friendly. He challenged us to take a stand for peace. I was so moved that I went up to him and shook his hand. He loved that he touched me and he knew he made a lasting impression. He was humbled by that. He made himself available to everyone. It was so uplifting.
Nance talked about our right to have peace and happiness. I always tried to make people happy so that really resonated with me. I knew that day, that someday, I too wanted to inspire a lot of people. This really shaped my life and I have devoted myself to inspiring people ever since.
Once I started interviewing NFL players for my book, Insightful Player, football pros lead a bold movement of hope, I was astounded by what many of them had been through. I never knew that world.
One player's father was murdered when he was eight; he had to duck for cover in his own home when bullets were flying on his street. Another player, as early as five years old, saw people shot. A Hall of Fame player never had a winter coat or boots, and didn't always have food to eat. Some of these players had to take heroic steps to overcome life's obstacles. The players overcame these hardships to achieve a place in the NFL. These players are much more than athletes. They are remarkable human beings and magnificent role models.
The majority of us are sick and tired of negative news. We are appalled by the empty sensationalism that contaminates our lives and infects our children. But we don't do anything about it. Why? We erroneously believe this is how it will always be, and there is nothing we can do. This is not true. We have to come together before it's too late. Just like Jim Nance did, we too, can embrace a positive peaceful movement.
For every Aaron Hernandez there are 1000 Jim Nance’s. Whether it’s an athlete that has touched us like Nance did with me or a teacher, relative, community leader or friend, we all can point to role models that have had a positive impact on our lives.
We need to tell their stories and have them resonate with our impressionable youth, the way my personal encounter with Jim Nance changed my life. Millions of lives can be altered by reading, hearing and seeing the positive life-changing stories that high-integrity athletes have to offer.