Heart of a Hall of Famer


Last week I wrote about the men who are inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the different ways they reach out and give back to communities all across America. This week I want to share with you an exciting way that the Hall of Fame is helping them share their stories of success on and off the field with the youth of this country.

Last year the Hall of Fame's Educational Outreach Program launched a character development series called the "Heart of a Hall of Famer." This program provides students the opportunity to learn first-hand what it took beyond athletic ability for legendary Hall of Famers to achieve great success. The program focuses on the positive character qualities possessed by these men.

Recently, former Buffalo Bills and Cleveland Browns great Joe DeLamielleure and legendary Los Angeles Rams defensive end Jack Youngblood each connected and engaged with students from across the country through the Hall's distance learning video conference system. In total, the two spoke to more than 1,000 participants from 29 different schools.

Over the past two years the Hall of Fame has put together more than 15 "Heart of a Hall of Famer" programs with five more scheduled to take place before the end of this school year. While many of these, like the DeLamielleure and Youngblood programs, are open to videoconference audiences only we do offer some that are open to both a live and videoconference audiences.

Such was the case last Friday when former San Diego Chargers tight end Kellen Winslow was on hand in Canton to speak with more than 500 live students in our NFL Films Theater. An additional 375 students joined via videoconference. Winslow discussed the importance of education and living life according to the Six Pillars of Character: Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring and Citizenship.

These programs are always extremely entertaining, educational and awe inspiring. Kellen's presentation was no different. He talked about trusting your parents and teachers because they are with you not against you. "They are able to see things in you that you may not be able to see in yourself," he explained.

Winslow also gave words of advice like, "You are only as good as the people around you. Don't let people hang around you that aren't moving in the same direction you're going. If you want to be a good student, hang around kids that get good grades."

And finally what I would say was the theme that carried the day was "when things happen to you in life (and they will), some of which you have no control over, it is not what happened to you that is important but how you respond to the adversity that is a true test of character." Winslow said, "Remain positive, stay confident in yourself and take care of your business."

It was truly an amazing program and opportunity for these students as they begin to mold and develop the person they will be and the character they will have as adults. I'm already looking forward to the next one with former Buffalo Bills head coach Marv Levy on Nov. 16.

If you would like to hear the audio from any of the previous "Heart of the Hall of Famer Series" you can download them for free from ITunes.

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Written by: Jon Kendle