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High school football players get life lessons from the Washington Redskins

By Hamil R. Harris
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 30, 2010; 11:39 PM

Giovani Francois has football scholarship offers from a half-dozen colleges, and his high school team, the Wise Pumas, will play for the Maryland State 4A championship Friday. But Tuesday at FedEx Field, Francois and 500 other area high school players were asked to devote some thought to life without football.

The fact that those doing the asking were current and former Washington Redskins gave them reason to listen.

"Make sure you have something else to fall back on," former tight end Rick "Doc" Walker told the group. "Don't think that it is going to be easy. Get your education and make sure you have something else to fall back on."

Walker served as host of the Redskins' annual "4th and Life High School Football Forum," which allowed area high school athletes from schools in the District, Maryland and Virginia to have informal discussions with current Redskins about succeeding on and off the field.

Wide receivers Santana Moss and Anthony Armstrong, defensive lineman Phillip Daniels, and fullback Darrel Young fielded questions while wearing their game uniforms.

During the forum, Moss talked about how he walked on to the football team at the University of Miami and later earned a scholarship.

"Knowing that my mom couldn't afford to send me to school, any way I got in would be a privilege," Moss said. "That track help me to get into school and help me to where I am today.

"Everybody likes to be in the camera when everything is going your way. But this is my job, whether you see me on my good days or my bad days."

BJ Corriveau, director of the Redskins Charitable Foundation, said each student in attendance received a planner to help with time management.

"It is important for them to be part of this forum because it allows them to grow as student-athletes," said Northwestern High School Athletic Director Terri Dendy, an Olympic medalist.

While many of the players wanted to know what it will take to get into the NFL, Walker responded by challenging the players to get their lives together first.

"It is about personal accountability," he told them. "Who do you not want to let down?"

Said Francois, the offensive lineman with a championship game in three days: "I want to be a doctor. It is not just about football."

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