Nov. 30, 2012 – Recently, a former NFL player visited Fort Valley State University to encourage students to achieve their personal and professional best. Tim Watson, who played with the Green Bay Packers, Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs, spoke to Wildcats about working hard to overcome challenges and the importance of obtaining an education on November 14.
Inside rooms 102-104 of the C. W. Pettigrew Center, Watson marched in while George Clinton’s Atomic Dog played in the background. The song, Watson said, was a nod to his fellow “Que Doggs” in the Omega Psi Phi fraternity. Watson began the evening discourse by telling students that he has walked in their footsteps.
“Where you are today was my yesterday,” said Watson. “I won’t go back to college, I’m done. I have those degrees, and I’m applying what I’m learning to my life.” The former pro-athlete told FVSU students that he applies the “X-plus Principle” to living.
“When you were born, no one knew what you’d be, what you’d become or what your life would be like,” he said. “You were an ‘X’.”
He described X-plus individuals as givers, doers and achievers. Who give back to help others succeed. He said X-minus people accepted were takers who accepted mediocrity.
“When you leave here, your legacy lives on,” Watson explained to the audience. “You must do things that will make a difference in life.”
The Fort Valley native claimed that he wasn’t preaching from “on high,” but from his own personal experience in order to help others succeed. “It’s my home, and you represent me,” he added, saying he received an informal education on Fort Valley State’s campus. “I’m not going to let people leave from my hometown and become X-minuses without a fight, without advice.”
Watson said that appreciation for hard work was drilled into him early. As a nine-year-old, he worked at the peach mills, filling buckets with 30 lbs. of peaches for 25 cents a piece. As a pre-teen, he mowed two-acre lawns, and then raked up pine tree needles. At 19 years old, Watson decided he wanted to live differently. He applied to Howard University, and paid for college thanks to a football scholarship. He excelled academically and was named a lifetime member of the Golden Key National Honor Society.
“Life’s supposed to be tough, and school is supposed to be tough, it’s preparation,” the athlete said, telling the students that they should always strive for excellence.
“It’s what you do different that makes you different,” Watson said. “Being excellent takes work and preparation.”
The professional advised Wildcats not to leave any of their God-given talents on the table. The athlete learned this lesson after receiving an injury that ended his football career. The hometown hero became a State Farm Insurance financial services specialist and said he’s earning more money than he ever did in the NFL, thanks to his education.
Watson later became a non-denominational ordained minister and started a philanthropic organization – UPLIFT Excellence Foundation, Inc. – to provide meals and holiday gifts to needy families. Watson urged the audience to be responsible and share their knowledge and gifts with others.
Bob Durn Jr., a 20-year-old criminal justice sophomore, said that Watson’s speech was inspiring.
“Tonight, I learned that it doesn’t matter where you come from, you can do anything in life,” said the Warner Robins native who wants to become a U.S. Marshal, “It was a boost of confidence for me to earn my master’s degree and go for my career goals to make my parents proud.”
Christina D. Milton, writer
Marketing and Communications
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