By: Rob Davis, Director of Player Development with the Green Bay Packers.
Throughout my career as a Chicago Bear and Green Bay Packer, I have always tried to reach out to the young people in each of those communities. Having grown up in Washington, D.C the Boys and Girls Club played a big part in my growth and development as a boy and an athlete.
In Washington D.C., the Boys and Girls Clubs were run by the Metropolitan Police Department or as we called it the, DC Police. The Clubs were located in different districts throughout the city. Where I lived in uptown northwest kids attended #6 Boys and Girls Club. It was there that I learned sport competition competing against other Clubs throughout Washington. Through the guidance of police officers like Larry Owens, I also learned many life skills that I could put to good use when my community started to deteriorate due to drugs and violence that destroyed the city in the 80’s. Like many cities, the crack cocaine epidemic in Washington turned a once vibrant black community into a war zone during my teen years. Fast money, fancy cars and earning respect was the name of the game. Either you used drugs, sold drugs, stuck the guys up that sold drugs, or you used sports and education to try and maintain some focus while all this was going on around you, even in my own home.
I knew at a very young age that jail wasn’t for me. Having two older brothers serve lots of time was good enough reason for me. I may have dated fewer girls and sometimes got less respect, because I choose sports and education over crime and violence, but I knew if I could stay out of jail I could make something of myself. For the record, I never dreamed it would be a career in the NFL.
Having seen a proven record of success, I try to spread what I have learned during those tough teen years to help other young people the way Larry Owens and many others helped me. I believe that self confidence, education and a passion for something positive is the key, and that’s what I try to encourage young people to seek. Here in Green Bay I get an opportunity to help the kids at the local Boys and Girls Club, through roundtable discussions, one-on-one counseling and currently serving on the board of directors. Never under estimate the power of those young people at the Clubs, they just might grow up to surprise you, the same I have surprised so many.
In my current role I also encourage the Green Bay players to get involved. The more positive people they can meet and hear their story, hopefully their own personal story will become clearer. However this can’t be done on just our wants and the kids needs! We need your help. This is an opportunity to make a difference in the life of a future leader.