The Haggar Gold Jacket Report is a weekly update on recent news surrounding the very select group of men who’ve earned a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Running back BARRY SANDERS made quite a name for himself during his Hall of Fame career with the Detroit Lions. But, Sanders, the third-leading rusher in NFL history, captured the hearts of football fans long before his glory days in the Motor City.
Fans can relive the legendary running back’s college days when EA Sports releases its popular college football video game, “NCAA Football 13,” on July 10. The winner of the 1988 Heisman Trophy while playing at Oklahoma State, Sanders will join another familiar face, Washington Redskins No. 1 pick and 2011 Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III, on the Heisman-themed cover of the video game.
Sanders, who earned his place on the game’s cover through a fan vote, said he is honored to appear with Griffin.
“For me to win the “NCAA Football 13” cover vote is really an honor, especially since I get to share the cover with Robert Griffin III,” he said. “I couldn’t be more thrilled.”
Earlier this week, the NFL announced that its Youth Football Fund has awarded $600,000 to 214 NFL players and coaches to support its free youth football camps.
The camps, run by former and current NFL players and coaches, including Hall of Fame running back ERIC DICKERSON, will reach more than 55,000 young football players this summer.
“Summer camps are a great way for children to keep active, build confidence and learn important skills,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who serves on the NFL Youth Football Fund board of directors. “We are pleased to support our players’ philanthropic efforts that promote physical fitness and healthy lifestyles in young people.”
Established in 1998 by the NFL and the NFL Players Association, the NFL Youth Football Fund uses football as a catalyst to promote positive youth development, support youth and high school football needs nationwide and ensure the health of amateur football participation.
Through the YFF's youth football initiatives and support programs, young athletes are provided with opportunities to learn the game of football, get physically fit and stay involved in productive after-school activities with adult mentors. The YFF also provides youngsters with safe and accessible places to play, as well as programs and initiatives that address the importance of proper coaching, health and safety and life skills development.
Class of 2004 enshrinee CARL ELLER visited the Pro Football Hall of Fame last week to speak to rookie draft picks from all 32 NFL teams as part of the NFL’s 15th annual rookie symposium, which was held in nearby Aurora, Ohio.
The core teaching principles of the symposium are NFL history, experience, player expectations, and professional and social responsibility. The four-day orientation, most of which was held in Aurora, included presentations, videos, and workshops focused on these important principles as well as other topics, including player health and safety, decision making and maintaining positive relationships.
Relying on decades of professional football experience, Eller touched upon many of these principles and explained to the rookies that hard work and dedication is instrumental to earning a place among the all-time greats in Canton.
“When you leave here today,” Eller said, “I want you to know that you are part of this family and this is a day and this is a weekend or time that you’re going to remember the rest of your lives.
“I want you to leave here with no regrets. When you leave here, go back to your homes and your hometowns and to your teams dedicated to being the best that you can be. Challenge yourselves to be great. Challenge these men that are before you that you can do it better. That’s what it’s about. And, I don’t know if you can do it much better than I did it, but that’s the challenge to you.”
Hall of Fame receiver MICHAEL IRVIN joined Eller at the symposium and told the rookies that they need to be careful in choosing trustworthy friends.
Irvin, who conceptualized the idea of having the rookies visit the Hall of Fame because he believes it is important for young players to understand the history of football, detailed mistakes he made as a young player and used those mishaps as examples to alert the rookies about the dangers they may encounter.
“When I came into the league I didn’t have anybody to tell me some things,” said Irvin, who captured three Super Bowl titles during his legendary career with the Dallas Cowboys.
It is Irvin’s hope that he can prevent players entering the league from learning the hard way like he did.
Links related to this story:
HOF Bios: Eric Dickerson | Carl Eller | Michael Irvin | Barry Sanders
More: Rookies visit the Hall of Fame – NFC | AFC | Video: Carl Eller offers advice to rookies
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