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NFL & United Way Blog

United Way Character Playbook Event 10.5 with the Dallas Cowboys

When Bradie James, the seventh-leading tackler in Dallas Cowboys history, was asked whether he would change the path he has taken in life, he offered a stoic response.

“I wouldn’t redo my path. My path is what was meant for me. There is a reason that the rearview mirror is smaller than the windshield. As far as looking backwards, there is nothing I can do.”

That was one of many sentiments imparted to Texan and Oklahoman students by James and Akin Ayodele, another former Cowboy on Monday. In an NFL Play 60 talk about the United Way Character Playbook, host Taylor Stern asked the pair questions about how they build their character.

Ayodele, who spent two seasons with the Cowboys, begins his mornings with a workout. Following his workout, he makes sure to consume a healthy snack. Ayodele’s go-to snack is frozen grapes because he says they taste like candy.

Besides developing a morning routine and following healthy habits, the former players discussed how building character early on helped them to get where they are today. Ayodele spoke to the fact that he was diagnosed with ADHD and Dyslexia while growing up, but that the struggle to overcome the two disabilities made him who he is.

He mentioned that spending the extra hours learning how to read helped him to communicate more effectively. Communicating Effectively is one of the six topics covered in the Character Playbook. Since 2016, Character Playbook has reached 793,704 students in 9,653 schools. Character Playbook teaches students, teachers, and districts real world skills about healthy relationships, conflict resolution, and managing emotions.

Character development in the classroom for both athletes helped them when the two were teammates on the Cowboys. In one specific incident, the communications system in their helmets malfunctioned, meaning they had to call all the plays on the field instead of having the coaches tell them what to call.

Due to the strong character traits the two had, the team was able to overcome the challenges in front of them and emerge victorious.

James also let students know what the core component of having character is.

“It’s all about doing the right things when people are not watching.”

If you would like to learn more information about the Character Playbook, and how to bring it to your community, click here.