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NFL & United Way Blog

NFL players go back to school to talk character

Mom: What did you do at school today?

Kid: You know, the usual…math, English, social studies, hung out with an NFL player.

As outlandish as it sounds, that was the report for hundreds of middle school students across the country during the first few weeks of school who participated in a new virtual classroom experience called Character Playbook LIVE. These interactive events, hosted by NFL teams and United Ways are designed to engage students in the important conversation of why character matters.

So far, Character Playbook LIVE events have occurred in 23 NFL markets giving NFL players and cheerleaders the opportunity to easily engage multiple schools at once. For example, Cornerback Robert McClain of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Cheerleader Julia joined seven middle school classrooms from around the Tampa Bay area for the interactive activity and digital Q&A session. The discussion focused on communicating effectively, making good choices and self-confidence. The duo spoke on the power of words and tips for communicating in today’s social media driven world, while covering lessons taught in Character Playbook about life inside and outside of football.

LaKema Massey, the Community School Director at Sulphur Springs K-8 said “Hearing from Robert and Julia as they talk candidly on their life experience made it real and reinforced that they have power in their voice, power in their choices and power in the decisions.”

In Kansas City, Chiefs Wide Receiver Chris Conley teamed up with Cheerleader LaKenya to “talk to a bunch of kids about character and doing what’s right.” Conley answered questions, asked the kids to show off their touchdown dances and talked about what he went through as a kid growing up.

The potential to create change because of his platform wasn’t lost on the third-year receiver. “I want them to know that they’re important to us and that they matter,” Conley said. “I want them to realize that we want to invest in their future, we want to invest in who they are and the sky is the limit for them. They’re at an impressionable point in their lives, but this is not the end of the world and there are so many places they can go from here.”

Tapping into schools virtually gives the NFL and United Way a new and interesting way to stay in touch with kids as they learn and grow through Character Playbook. To learn more about Character Playbook, visit