Former professional football player Tim Green is living his dream. He is enabling Orange students to do the same….not through the game of football, but through the game of life.
“He was a real inspiration to me to chase my dreams,” said senior Brian Kilfoyle. “It was really inspiring to hear him talk about how he came from nothing and made it to the top, and I’m trying to do the exact same thing.”
Kilfoyle was in the audience at Orange High School when Green gave the first of three presentations on the Orange campus. He also spoke to Brady Middle School students and later to parents at the BMS Open House. Green, who played as a linebacker and defensive end with the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, is also known as a commentator and host on NPR and Fox, and a best-selling author who has penned 28 books. Green was brought to the District by librarians Joanna McNally and Betsey Lee, with some assistance from the OHS and Elementary PTAs, after they heard his lively and engaging presentation elsewhere. He stressed the importance of reading to students at OHS and Brady Middle School.
“Reading is weightlifting for the brain,” Green told the assembled crowds. “It makes us smarter, it makes us kinder; and those things are more important than sports, bank accounts, television and contracts. Books help educate. They help build character. And those are the two most important things.”
Green noted that three things will help students achieve their dreams in life: talent, ‘maniacal’ hard work and luck. He said that he saw many people who had the first two traits but without the third didn’t “make it”. He considers himself lucky because he put education first and insists that each of his own five children attain at least a post-graduate degree.
“You can’t count on sports or entertainment, even if you have the talent, even if you have the required work ethic. You have to be lucky. And I got lucky. But you can’t count on that. You can count on your education. It’s an investment that will always pay you back.”
And Green is now paying it back as well, donating the money he receives for his speaking engagements back to the schools and communities with books for libraries and underprivileged students. It was a lesson that prompted seniors Shamable Crawford and Genna Weinberg to give Green an “Actively Caring for People” green bracelet.
“He does so much with the books and monetary donations, and he showed the act of kindness. Now he can spread it on even more,” said Crawford, who is heeding his words as she looks toward a college education before looking toward an Olympic or professional opportunity in track.
“I need to work my hardest because in the end the work does pay off,” said Weinberg. “The main message that I got is that anything you put your mind to, you can do.”
Although a star football player not only at Syracuse University where he started as a freshman, but as a first-round draft pick for the Falcons, Green had a message that appealed to both male and female students and athletes and non-athletes alike.
“I liked it because the message was that schoolwork is more important than sports. And even though he was an athlete, it was still more important to put schoolwork and reading first,” said sixth grader Maren Rosenberg.
Following a “Breakfast of Champions” sponsored by the PTA, Green posed for photographs and autographed his books for the students and staff. At the high school, he read a chapter from one of his more recent books “Unstoppable” which he said was one of his favorites. He encouraged students to find a favorite book, whether it had a sports theme like most of the ones he has authored or something else…just one that will inspire them and make them want to devour more.
“In a small way, it’s an opportunity to make the world a better place,” Green said. “And it’s an effort to really support the teachers and administrators of the schools I go to…because that’s their mission – to make the world a better place.”
“You should keep reading and never give up,” said sixth grader Myles King. “You can set goals for you life. And reading can really help you in life.”
“I liked how he’s encouraging you to follow your dreams and by doing well in school, you can still follow your dreams in sports,” added P.J. Fisher.
“You should get a good education, do your school work and you can still do what you want,” added classmate Alex Proels.
Green stressed over and over again that books can transport the students to entirely different worlds, just like they did for him. As a voracious reader himself, Green attended law school in the off-season and is now a practicing lawyer in New York. And while he might have been “mean” on the football field, as soon as he stepped onto the sidelines, he always put kindness and respect first. He said “character” and "what’s inside" are the most important attributes anyone can have.
“I really liked his speech and how he was talking about the importance of education,” said BMS student Jesseca Hudson-Turpin. “But he said the most important thing is what’s inside of your heart because it really does matter what you care about and how you care for others. I just loved his speech. It inspired me.”