For over two years, Extreme Networks has been a proud partner of the Pro Football Hall of Fame (PFHOF). The relationship has been built on our mutual commitment to education and community outreach in K-12 school districts and colleges across the country. With the PFHOF, Extreme has been powering to the Heart of a Hall of Famer Program to educate 7th-12th grade students on important lessons about character, leadership, and achieving success. An iconic football Hall of Famer hosts each session in the Heart of a Hall of Famer series. Students at the conference location are able to meet in person with the Hall of Famer, while remote students participate virtually from anywhere in the country via a video conference.
During the sessions, Hall of Famers explain to students why it wasn’t just their athletic skills that helped them become leaders and successful. The Hall of Famers’ explain the importance of character and how it shaped their lives. They describe how character entails being trustworthy, respectful, responsible, fair, caring, and citizenship. Some Famers’ have found that a hero or role model such as a parent, coach, teacher, athlete or even a movie star can help to build and improve character.
John Randle recently spoke at the Pro Football Hall of fame with students and guests. On the field, Randle was an interesting and fascinating player. He is even more so as a speaker. Randle described to the students how you should never let anyone tell you can’t do something and believe it. He related his personal experiences and how even his family and friends didn’t believe he could make the NFL. He went undrafted and was rejected by teams when he tried out personally, but didn’t give up and never stopped believing in himself. He took a chance and hopped on a plane headed for the Minnesota Vikings even after he had been rejected by multiple teams and didn’t have people supporting him. When he got to Minnesota he worked tirelessly. When he showed the Vikings that he could play hard, they opted to give him a shot. Randle explained to the students that teams were measuring him on his height and weight, but not the amount of heart he had and that was where he had his edge.
Randle is 1 of only 16 undrafted players to reach the NFL Hall of Fame and says he “wouldn’t change it, even for a Superbowl ring.” He explained to the students that he worked hard, showed up early to practice, continually practiced to improve his skills — and being inducted into the Hall of Fame shows how much work and character he put into his career. He made a point to explain that the honor reflects not only his hard work, but also the work of his teammates, and coaches who helped him. His character was frequently tested on the field, but he always kept his composure; even when he was stressed, frustrated, and upset. When on the field he would try to get inside other players’ heads and mess with their minds, just to rattle them, never to be mean.
Another important remark he made to students was, “My teammates were my friends and they still are. It has always been important to me to build and keep those relationships.” He explained that building and keeping relationships throughout one’s life and career is important. He is still friends with his teammates, opposing teams’ players, people he grew up with, the mailman, and his neighbors.
The season has only just begun and we are excited to continue with our fall lineup of Hall of Famers, from defensive tackle Dan Hampton to wide receiver Andre Reed. See the full schedule below and for more information, visit the Heart of a Hall of Famer Series website.
- Nov. 02 with Mel Blount
- Dec. 06 with Andre Reed