Hearing the Message: Former pro athletes get point across to students about relationships and making good choices
By DON WALLACE, News-Telegram Sports Editor
Oct. 15, 2008 - Sulphur Springs head football coach Greg Owens doesn't waste practice time.
Not even during an open week.
So the fact that he gave up 30 minutes Tuesday to two speakers spoke volumes to his players.
Devin Wyman, a 6-foot-8, 335-pound arena football lineman and former NFL player joined former USC player Keith Davis. Davis a stocky former pro athlete who had a short stint with the New York Giants still looks like he could put on pads and play today.
"What has happened this year to you will bring out greatness. All the ups and downs that have happened to you will pay off, if you believe," Davis said. "I believe you have a reserve of greatness, greatness you haven't even used. It's like potential, that word comes from the work potent, it is powerful I challenge each of you to dig deep. You have unused success just waiting to be called upon."
Davis also touched on the spiritual note reminding the players, "if God is for you, then who can be against you."
Davis said he wasn't talking about church or even religion. Just a personal relationship every day with Jesus Christ. He said he talks with Jesus often, many times during workouts.
Davis said, "When you get a glimpse about of what could be through God, it's great. Your heart as a team, as a school. You got to have the heart of champion."
Wyman, a mountain of a man from northern California, said he loved football because it has a second half.
"That's what I love, you can have a bad first half. I had a bad first half to my life, but I have come back and I doing well now," Wyman said. "I want to encourage you right now. You goal is to win a a championship. You have to be together, you have to have character and respect. Start working when the whistle blows. I challenge you to do your work in school when the bell rings."
Wyman continued, "You got to put worth the effort in class. The secret to getting straight A's is getting to class on time, turning in homework, participate in class and do your best on the team. Respect starts with yourself."
Wyman also told the players to earn respect by looking presentable by pulling up their pants over their back sides. He said you would not play a football game looking like that.
"You are in a uniform and you want to look good and play good," Wyman said. "You have to respect yourself and make the right choices. I challenge you to be a champion, don't just settle for making C's. It's being a student/athlete, it's being challenged. Keith graduated with the highest GPA. I made bad choices and lost my full ride to USC."
He said, "Don't make the choices I made of Budweiser or hanging with your friends. Now I don't drink. Know your purpose within your heart. To be the best student/athlete you can be. I played real football. I was 0-9 with the Utah Blaze and we were the laughing stock of the whole league. But that team never pointed fingers and never cussed each other out. We prayed together and believed in each other. We won seven games in a row and made the playoffs. Don't let people tell you what you can do. You are a champion, it is in every last one of you."
Owens said, "They talked about life, about real things. We appreciate them coming to share their stories with us. It's an honor to have guys who have played at the levels they have and have been through the experiences they have been through. The share real life relationships, they tell them the way not to go. They look up to and respect to guys like that. It's great for them to give back and talkk to you kids.'
"Kids idolize sports figures," Owens said. "Here are two telling them the right way to go about things and they talk about the most important things in their lives. We have people from Sulphur Springs who are in the NFL. We took 30 minutes out of our practice because this is important. We want to get our mind right and our attitude right. We're probably going to have a real good workout, our guys have been challenged."
Owens added, "Young people need to hear it. What is important in live. When the message comes from a pro football player who is 6-8 and has a Super Bowl ring and they demand respect because they have lived it."