Arrington, Clarke, Manley Speak To Youth

Former Redskin players admonish young athletes to make the right choices; treat everyone with respect.

The Redskins' Charitable Foundation brought together high school students from DC and surrounding counties yesterday for its 4th & Life program. The 4th & Life program is designed to be a mentoring session for up and coming high school football players where life lessons from former Redskin players are expressed in an effort to encourage and guide the youth to success both on and off the field.

Former Redskin players LaVar Arrington, Gary Clarke, and Dexter Manley share their incite on staying focused on the field, and in life. Photo/CD Brown. 
"Treat everybody right", said Gary Clarke. "The guy you pick on today, may be the same guy you go to later in life for a job."

Dexter Manley, whose own private life and football career have been marred due to his own poor decision making, shared a very revealing and poignant "take-you-to-church" moment that detailed his life as a functionally illiterate athlete.

Former Redskin Dexter Manley talks about his making the wrong choices, and overcoming them. Photo/CD Brown.

Many are familar with the Manley's 'Beltway' story.

"I would drive for hours around the Beltway because I couldn't read the signs to tell me where to get off."

Manley shared that before he got help he was reading at a second grade level. Being illiterate at school, and in life, caused him to make poor choices.

"I got involved in making the wrong choices and I paid heavily for them", admitted Manley whose life today is an open book. "I worked too hard to get to the professional level, and I started to see it get wasted."

"There are always consequences to the choices you make and I made a lot of bad choices", Manley told us afterwards.

His choices included becoming dependant on alcohol and drugs.

While Manley's poor decision making has always been in the spotlight , other players who had the same issues fell under the radar.

"A lot of guys I've known, like Mark Tuinei of the Dallas Cowboys, weren't on the front street with their chemical dependency", Manley said. "God found a way to put my story on the front street, but I'm still alive while guys like Mark Tuinei is found dead in his car."

Manley also talked about being grateful today.

"But overall I can stand here today and say I'm grateful that I lived through it. I weathered the rain, wind, and the storm. I just thank God that I made it through", Manley said.

LeVar Arrington, back on the Redskin campus since parting ways with the organization in 2005, said the organization has been "reaching out" to him as part of their effort to get Redskin alumni more involved with the organization's charitable and community service projects.

Former Redskin LaVar Arrington tells kids never stop learning. Photo/CD Brown.

Arrington thanked the Redskins for what he said made a comfortable life for him and his family.

"I made a lot of money", said Arrington who admonished the kids to think also about life after football. "Thank you, Washington Redskins."

While football is a stepping stone to a great life for many who go pro, the lesson of the day was also to never stop learning. "Exercise your mind. Start a tradition" advised Arrington.

"I got a crazy crib, but I got tired of just sitting in it after football", Arrington revealed.

He advised the kids to stay motivated and challenged. "It should be a challenge that motivates you to be something great."

On what challenges him, Arrington said: "To do something so significant in my life that it will be talked about the way they talk about Vince Lombardi, former presidents of the United States, and Bill Gates."

"My challenge is to do things so significant that it will be talked about through time. That's my challenge", Arrington said.

Arrington is the host of the LaVar and Dukes sports talk radio show, former restauranteur, and current sports blogger for the Washington Post.

Past 4th & Life panelists have included London Fletcher, Colt Brennan,  Ken Harvey, and former Skins player Marko Mitchell.

Previous 4th & Life segments