By Jacob Ray
Professional Football Hall of Fame
Las Vegas is home to many interesting sights and events, and last week it hosted something special for the football world: the NFL Draft.
It is an event that all football fans look forward to, especially if the previous season did not go as planned. A place where dreams come true, careers begin and teams can transform their franchise. And this year, it was celebrated in a place known for its life-changing moments.
The NFL world descended on Sin City as players with names like Trayvon Walker, Aiden Hutchinson, “Sauce” Gardner, Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave and a slew of others called upon to begin their NFL journey. While every media outlet you could think of was celebrating the “future” of the NFL, the Pro Football Hall of Fame was in town to celebrate the “past,” with the latest Heart of a Hall of Famer program connected by Extreme Networks for the 2021 – School year 2022 – a program for students to learn important life values such as commitment, integrity, courage, respect and honesty.
The Hall’s Youth and Education Team took their Heart of a Hall of Famer program connected by Extreme Networks for their own “life-changing” event to Las Vegas at Mojave High School, and they did. with a Raiders legend, a player who came out of Purdue University as a 3-way star (yes, you read that right – offensive, defensive and special teams), who through places like Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Baltimore, found his way to the then Oakland Raiders. None other than Hall of Famer Rod Woodson.
Woodson, the 10th overall pick in the 1987 NFL Draft by the Steelers, was a modern-day “triple threat.” Although he did not continue his offensive success in the NFL, Woodson excelled on the defensive side of the ball. During his career, he totaled 71 interceptions – good for third all-time in NFL history. He is second in return distance in interceptions, behind compatriot Ed Reed, with 1,483 yards. His successes in the defensive field earned him inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009.
In front of a group of student-athletes leaders in Mojave and hundreds of students connected virtually, Woodson explained what it meant to him to be part of the historic Raiders organization.
“The great thing about being with the Raiders is that it’s an iconic team. When you say ‘Silver and Black’ you’re only talking about one team… When you say Silver and Black, everyone knows you’re talking about the Raiders!” he told the students.
Woodson praised his time as a member of the Raiders and the importance of embracing the city of Las Vegas – and being embraced by it.
Knowing that the main participants in this program were high school students, Woodson explained how he was able to overcome distractions in high school with a unique and powerful analogy.
“Everyone has an analogy of being a tiger or a lion, right? My analogy has always been the lone wolf. Your strongest path is normally built when you do it alone. And you never see a wolf in a circus, but you see a lion and a tiger in the circus, then they can be tamed!So that was my mentality throughout my life.
Woodson said while it can be difficult to do something like this as a high school student, it’s the right decision to set up your best future.
The program wouldn’t have been complete if the NFL Draft hadn’t been a topic of conversation! Instead of predicting who would go when, Woodson shared what he would say to potential projects if he was able to talk to them before he heard their name called.
“That would be two tips. First, learn the game. The game is played more mentally than physically… Second, don’t be afraid to say “no”. But you’ll see a lot of different people coming in and they’re going to ask for money and you have to be prepared to tell them no.
Woodson said it might be difficult because everyone wants to take care of their family, but it can be a character builder and prepare those people for life on the road.
Heart of a Hall of Famer Connected by Extreme Networks is a program for students to learn what it takes to be a Hall of Famer on and off the court. This message can make a football player a Hall of Famer, can make a student a valedictorian, or a member of an organization a CEO.
Woodson’s final advice to high school students: enjoy it!
You know the saying: “Viva, Las Vegas”. It can be applied to this program.
VIVA – Very Important Values Achieved – by every student who logged in.