On November 10th, New York Giants cornerback and safety Julian Love, offensive lineman Jackson Barton, and Alexis Terrizzi of United Way of New York City joined Darian Johnson of Everfi for a special Character Playbook event that reached over 100 school districts in the New York area.
The conversation opened with Love, who was an All-American defensive end at Notre Dame before being drafted in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft by the Giants. He started the conversation by talking about what character means to him. “Character is acting in a way that is not only beneficial to you. It is [acting] how my parents wanted me to act.”
With a large middle school audience in attendance for the event, discussion soon was directed towards what the players would tell their middle school selves if they could travel back in time. While Love and Terrizzi spoke about being active and engaged in school, Barton brought his newfound love of reading to the conversation.
“I would go back and tell myself to read more. I’m kicking myself thinking about all the good books I missed as a kid. Right now, I am into the Fablehaven series.”
Barton, who was All-Pac 12 First Team in 2018 while at Utah, was a member of last year’s Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs team before joining the Giants this season.
After talking about their time in middle school, the panel of guests moved on to speaking about important parts of having character, such as building a solid support system around you.
The support systems that are built around you, whether they consist of your friends or relatives, are pivotal to the development of your character. All the speakers agreed that having a support system to fall back on helps you to become a more confident person.
They also touched on the idea that having someone to talk to when they are upset makes a big difference in the way that they resolve conflicts. Understanding and managing emotions, as well as resolving conflicts, are cornerstone elements to the Character Playbook curriculum. Since 2016, Character Playbook has connected with nearly 800,000 students in 10,000 schools, providing students and teachers with real world lessons about healthy relationships and conflict resolution.
Love admitted to the students that despite playing in the NFL, he sometimes likes to shy away from conflicts with others. For others who like to shy away, Love offered up a phrase of advice that his parents taught him when he was young. “You don’t always have to be the nice guy; you have to be the good guy.”
The event concluded with the panelists answering questions submitted by the audience. Love gave parting advice about how making the right friends could lead you down the path to a successful life. “It is important that you align yourself with people who have the same standards.” he said to the students.
To learn how to bring Character Playbook to a school near you, click here.