Tim Green and two fellow former NFL players, Cedric Woodard and Johnnie Lee Higgins, visited Sweeny High School last Wednesday to spread to the word to students about the NFL’s READ 60 / PLAY 20 campaign.
Cedric Woodard and Johnnie Lee Higgins are Sweeny High graduates themselves, so they were especially excited to be given the chance to encourage kids from their own community to strive to reach their full potential.
Sweeny High School has actually had seven graduates go on to become NFL players, an impressive number for any school. Principal Robert Morrison knows that great things lie ahead for his students. Half jokingly, he exclaimed “I’m going to take a selfie with y’all, that way, if any of you get rich and famous, I have your picture on my phone,” as he posed for a selfie with the junior high classes.
Tim Green was equally impressed by the number of Bulldogs to go pro. “I’ve been all over the country. I’ve been to 1,000 schools in the last 10 years,” he explained. “I have never been to a school that has so many.”
Green followed Morrison’s lead, taking a photo with the crowd of students, before launching into an impassioned speech about the importance of education and physical activity. He attributes his dedication to education with helping him find success in both sports and beyond. Without a proper education coupled with his passion for reading, he may not have achieved all the successes he found in and outside of football, like becoming a successful author and lawyer.
Higgins shared his advice with students as well, imparting on them “You all have to decide what your core values are, what things make you who you are. That doesn’t start in high school, that doesn’t start in college, that doesn’t start when you’re rich and famous. That starts now.”
The PLAY60 / READ20 program encourages kids to play for 60 minutes a day and read for 20. Green helped spearhead the addition of READ 20 because both fitness and reading have played such an important role in his life. Green spent eight years as a football player and 11 as an NFL commentator, but one of his biggest passions has always been reading and writing books.
“I love books,” he told TheFacts.com who wrote a story about their visit. “When I was on the bus every day going to school, I was reading a book. When I finished early in the cafeteria, I was reading a book. When I finished getting my gear on for football practice, sitting in the locker room waiting for coach to blow the whistle, I was reading a book.”
As a New York Times bestselling author with 33 published works, so far, Tim Green says books made him not only a more intelligent person, but a better one. He credits books with opening his mind to new experiences and his heart to people who have different viewpoints or backgrounds.
During the presentation, Green encouraged students to read, even if they find it difficult. He promised that the more they read, the easier it will be, and the more they will benefit from it. As Green explained his feelings about books, “They will make you smarter, in every subject. They will make you a better person. They will make you kinder and more forgiving.”
Visiting thousands of schools, and being a father of five himself, Green understands that it can be difficult to convince children of the true importance of reading and education. Kids often ignore advice given from adults and are in a place in their life where they are still unsure whether or not to believe things like school are really as important as their parents and teachers say. Green avoids delivering his message as any sort of command, and rather tries to show students how reading has helped him in his life and explaining how it can also help them, if they choose to do it.
“When I talk to students, I never tell you what to do, I tell you what you can do,” he said. “If you make a decision to do it, you can make yourself better.”
After the presentation, students had the chance to meet and take photos with all the presenters, before going home for the day.