OPINIONS ABOUT THE SPORT OF FOOTBALL

This former Penn State football player and retired NFL offensive lineman loves sports, loves kids, and has an opinion about the sport he loves …  football.

“Will it ever stop? We are forever talking about if the sport of football ever dies, it will die from the outside in. It won’t be undone by great coaches or football stars — College football knows how to make money. Instead, the death will start with those furthest from an education, or the ones who could not make the transition from high school athletes to playing in the big college arenas on Saturday afternoons. It will begin with nervous parents reading about their kids finishing school or not being able to get a job, with coaches forced to bench stars for an entire season because of not making their grades. Football will live: The stadiums will still be filled on Saturdays, the players will still play, the profits will continue; but the sport will be sick.”

FLOYD WEDDERBURN | Penn State Class of ’99
Retired #69 Seattle Seahawks

 

I first met Floyd sometime in 2000 when I was enjoying a much needed “girls night out” with a few friends. It was a funny first time meeting that we can look back on and laugh about, but believe me it was not amusing to me at the time. In fact, it was Floyd’s older brother who introduced himself to me initially and then after moments of exchanging a few words came back and told me, “my brother told me not to talk to you.” Of course my head started twisting, the eyes started rolling, and my usual independent, aggressive, and quite confrontational stereotypical self marched right up to the 6’8” frame and got all up in his face. By the time I finished reading him what I thought to be the riot act, he in a very calming voice responded to me, “How do you know I didn’t want your number for myself?”. Of course I immediately shut up and that was the beginning and the end at the same time. Floyd and I became very good friends over the next 13 years. Never mind that he initially lied to me and told me he worked in sales for a communications company, or that every summer around  the same time he would disappear… or that things just never seemed to add up, there were always gaps in his story, his timelines, and his whereabouts.

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It’s funny because even after skillfully hiding that he was an NFL player, he remained the same person I met and had grown to know over those couple of years. There was nothing “typical” or should I say “stereotypical” about him. He was quiet, reserved, private, humble, and very un-assuming. In fact I read somewhere that he was sometimes referred to as a “gentle giant”, and I can completely relate. He was not then nor is now a flashy type of person. In fact, it’s the funniest thing because as large as his frame is, he actually tries his best to just blend in with the crowd. I’m a tall girl myself, yet he towers over me and anytime we’re out in public, people always have this look like they know he’s someone important. His demeanor is serious and his heart big as is everything in his life. He is such a professional in everything he does. For as long as I can remember he has always professionally taken playing football as his job. He was serious about it then and is now to this day. He’s very passionate about football and I’m sure he never thought that he would play in the NFL here in the U.S. Floyd’s mother came here from Jamaica and had to work extremely hard to bring the entire family  over. Everyone sacrificed.

Things were not easy for him when he came to the states and although he was a natural in football, basketball and track in High School, PENN STATE gained him as a tackle for the Lions under Paterno’s regime. When the news about what happened at Penn State hit the press, I had to get his take on things. Immediately I reached out to see how he felt about the whole thing. He replied in his usual calming voice; “You know what Stef, I feel so sorry for the players who are being punished for something they had no knowledge of and absolutely nothing to do with. That is what is most disheartening to me”. I felt his pain and knew instantly that this would be one part of his journey in the sport that he would never come to deal with or ever forget.