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A few months ago I sat down with former Redskins linebacker Eddie Mason to discuss a new book he had written -- Training For The Tough Game Of Life -- and the second career he began for himself, opening his own training facility in Loudoun County, Va.
"You never write things and do things in life, I don't believe, just for yourself," he said in an interview. "I think you do it because you have a mission and purpose in place."
One of those missions is continuing to educate today's young athletes.
Mason, along with former NFL players Garry Cobb, Steve Fitzhugh, Scott Galbraith, Freddie Scott and Tony Stewart are kicking off the inaugural NFL Prep Academy, an invitation-only program designed for elite high school football student-athletes and their parent or guardian to teach the values of education, character, leadership, and community outreach.
Taking place at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, the four-day program from June 17-20 features a variety of classroom presentations that include "Goal Setting," "Values," "Academic and Career Planning," "Healthy Relationships," "Life Beyond Football," and "Leadership & Character Development."
Forty-one student-athletes from 20 states were selected to participate in the Academy based on academic and athletic performance, character, civic involvement, and a coach's recommendation.
Pro Football Hall Of Famer Anthony Munoz will also be delivering the keynote address and be present throughout the program.
For Mason, the four days offer the same beliefs he has been preaching for years, empowering people's lives from an early age, preparing them for the difficult choices they will have to make ahead.
"We have to change the culture," he said. "You have to have mentors in place. You have to have men in place who can coach these players on how to do it right. It starts at the collegiate, high school and even youth level. Once a young man turns 12 or 13, they're trying to determine who they want to be in life. We have this saying, 'Football is not who I am, it's what I do.' It's really about teaching value outside of the game."
Photo Credit: NFL Player Engagement.