Former Washington Redskins stars Dexter Manley, Gary Clark and LaVar Arrington told about 100 high school football players Friday not to let obstacles or disadvantages keep them from achieving their goals.
Speaking to roughly 100 area high school football players during the Washington Redskins’ Charitable Foundation’s 4th & Life Football Forum, the three former players provided life and football lessons, encouraging the players not to stop striving for what they wanted.
Manley played for the Redskins from 1980 to 1989, helping the Redskins win two Super Bowls while anchoring their defensive line. But his career was cut short after a series of failed drug tests. Manley was named one of the 70 Greatest Redskins and has used his personal history to inspire others.
On Friday, he told the high school players the story of how he overcame a reading comprehension disability and emphasized the importance of education.
“I’ve gone through a lot of situations in my life, so I think I’m perfect for this,” Manley said. “Hopefully these guys can take this. It’s a human tradition: one man learning from another. Hopefully they can learn from what I have to say and move on.”
Clark was one of the Redskins’ leading receivers during his career in Washington, which lasted from 1985 to 1992. He told the players how, as a 6-year-old growing up in Southern Virginia, he told his father he wanted to become a professional football player and began working to learn and prepare for the sport even then.
“Don’t ever let anyone tell what you can’t do,” Clark said. He pointed out to the students that his drive enabled him to succeed in the NFL though he was only 5-9 and 173 pounds during his playing days.
Arrington, who played for the Redskins from 2000 to 2006, encouraged the players to invest fully in football and dedicate themselves to their educations so they will be prepared to provide for themselves when their playing careers end.
It was Arrington’s first time at Redskins Park since he was released by the team in 2006. He called the chance to speak to the high school players an “honor.”
“What better way to come back and be here than in a moment of giving back and sharing with our little brothers?” Arrington said. “To me, it’s an elite fraternity when you’re a football player.”