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NFL & United Way Blog

United Way Character Playbook Event with the Philadelphia Eagles

On Monday, October 19, the City of Brotherly Love received some good advice from one of their own. Two-time Pro Bowler and former Philadelphia Eagle William Thomas teamed up with Michael Banks, the Managing Director of Talent, Culture and Organizational Effectiveness at United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey to talk about what good character is all about 

For this annual Character Playbook LIVE event, hundreds of schools were in attendance including those from Cedar Brook, High Bridge, Sun Valley and Collinswood districts. Students got to hear about character development from two people who have used character to build their careers. Students learned from Thomas that having good character can impact others just as much as the person who holds it 

“When you have good character, people can really depend on you.” Thomas told the students.  

The Philadelphia Eagles depended on the now-retired linebacker for nine seasons as an anchor on the defense. Over his career, Thomas recorded 37 sacks and 27 interceptions, which places him in the exclusive 20/20 club, meaning he has accomplished the feat of recording over 20 career sacks and 20 career interceptions.  

Darian Johnson, a senior account manager at EVERFI who served as the moderator asked Thomas how he handles his emotions when he gets upset. Thomas offered two separate answers—then and now Back then, he was grateful that he had football as a source for anger release. But now days, his methods for handling stress are closer to those of the students“When I get upset now, I go and play my video games to relax.” 

Understanding and managing emotions is a central lesson in Character Playbook. Since 2016, this digital education tool has reached nearly 800,000 students in 10,000 schools providing students and teachers with real world lessons about healthy relationships and conflict resolution. 

Both Banks and Thomas agreed that in order to build good character, you need to be able to set goals for yourself to achieve. Banks, who was present with his family on the call, stressed the importance of not comparing your personal progress to that of others.  

“Everyone at the airport is going to a different destination. They're all carrying different luggage and had different ways of getting to the airport. But at the end of the day, they all get to their destination,” Banks said.  

When saying goodbye to the students, Thomas reminded them to always aim high with their goals. “Reach for the stars, and don’t hold yourself back. Anything is possible if you work hard and put your mind to it.” 

To learn more about Character Playbook click here