I am really loving all the things I have been learning about the Seahawks Super Bowl Champions today. I knew about their on the field talents but I did not realize all of the amazing things they do off the field.
I mention that the Seahawks are a team of Shaquille O’Neal’s because of the hard work these gentleman have completed on and off the field going beyond the stereotypes about football players and Black men.
I remember when Shaq first came into the league he shared that he worked in the off season to earn his college degree because it was a promise he made to his mother. From what I remember (I was about 9 or 10 at the time), is that his mother allowed him to go into the NBA Draft but only if he would take time to finish college. Shaq obviously fufilled his promise but Shaq did not stop there. With each new off the court adventure he took time to learn the craft. Shaq became a police officer and went through that training process. Shaq started working as a broadcaster on TNT but not until he learned more about broadcasting. And these days you can call him Dr. O’Neal as he earned a Ed.D. completing his dissertation on the role of humor in leadership. O’Neal shifted stereotypes about athletes and Black men. He has also showed a consistent respect to all of the fields he has pursued by not assuming that just because he is a NBA star he can just do any job just because with no training.
Today I found myself reading 12 things the casual football fan should know about the Seahawks. And between this article and the articles linked to it I learned a lot about this team. All season long I have enjoyed seeing them buck stereotypes based on how they all came into the league. Most of them were drafted late in the NFL Draft…and when I say late I mean fifth/sixth round late. I didn’t even know there was a fifth and sixth round to the NFL Draft! And I really love that this team is a team through and through. A well oiled machine where each piece does its job and they are all the better for it. There are no superstars on this team…well maybe a few now… And the fact these players have earned their Bachelors’ degree (and not in easy majors either) and do consistent service in their communities (though numerous professional athletes take part in the latter it just doesn’t make it to mainstream media) is a bonus.
Michael Robinson (FB) has his own web show about the behind the scenes life of athletes. He directs, interviews, and even helps with the production of his reports. Here is his show from Seahawks training camp last summer:
Of course there is Richard Sherman (CB) who has been in the news recently because of his two minutes after he won the NFC Championship controversial post game interview. The online reactions to his words included comments that Sherman is a thug but Sherman is far from it. He is a Sanford graduate (I knew better than to even apply when I was applying for colleges) and he graduated with his master’s as well as a bachelor’s degree. Sherman shared his thoughts on the response to the post game interview touching upon the racial undertones of some of the reactions. He also has an organization/project/movement to encourage other youth to be successful in school and in sports, S.W.A.G. (Students with a Goal):
It is also worth mentioning Russell Wilson (QB) and Kam Chancellor (SS). Both men in recent interviews highlight the importance of hard work and understanding the deeper mechanics of the game and the contributions that has made to their success. Did you know that Russell Wilson went to last year’s Super Bowl just to see how everything happens? I didn’t either. Wilson makes weekly visits to the local Children’s’ Hospital. Wilson discusses both the importance of hard work and his visit to Super Bowl LVII in his David Letterman interview:
I have really appreciated the numerous lessons this Championship team has provided. So much so that I knew it would take more than 140 characters or a Facebook status to express.
From the importance of hard work to never giving up on your dreams to the importance of giving back and to the power of an education even if you make six figures. These athletes do not reflect traditional stereotypes about men and education, ethnicity/race and education, and socio-economic status and education and are role models because of it.
You can have S.W.A.G. and a Masters Degree…and I hope the idea catches on.