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Dragons give back on off day

HOUSTON – It was 2:30 p.m. on the Dragons’ off day. The team had a walkthrough in the morning, but the afternoon was reserved for rest and recovery.

While some players went out to lunch, others took the time to sleep, while a few went over to the mall.

But, while most of the team was resting, running back Kenneth Farrow was on his way to Kipp Sunnyside School.

The running back brought along teammates Trey Williams, also a running back, and quarterback BJ Daniels to use their free time to impart a little wisdom to a younger generation.

Farrow, with the help of Trayveon Greenberry, runs a nonprofit called Grind With A Purpose (GWAP). It is a program designed to give students the necessary tools to succeed in life, a curriculum the friends have developed through their own experiences and a desire to see children flourish.  

So, at 3:15 p.m., after navigating some Houston traffic, the three players arrived at the school and entered a classroom of 13 students.

Wednesday’s lesson: Purpose.

Greenberry opened the session by asking the students what they wanted to do when they got older. The students started listing off careers like, rapper, NBA small forward, NFL star and actor. Then Greenberry asked the students to look beyond the celebrity lifestyle and focus on their fallback plan.

That’s where the career choices got interesting: CEO, architect, programmer, animator, mechanical engineer. The sixth graders were able to quickly pivot. That conversation served as an introduction to Williams and Daniels, the special guests.

Williams spoke first. He talked about how, growing up, he would talk to his father about purpose.

“My purpose was to be an athlete,” he said. “To be an athlete, I had to take care of my responsibilities in class.”

He used his interests off the football field to fuel his focus, which benefitted him as an athlete.

Then Farrow interjected. He told a story about how he was at a hotel in Seattle and heard someone playing the piano.

It was Williams.

He taught himself how to play the piano – his favorite song to play is "Easy (Like Sunday Morning)" by Lionel Richie – because it helped him quiet his mind.

“It’s easy to get out of focus,” he said. “Playing the piano helped me lock in that focus.”

When it was Daniels’ turn to speak, he talked about being a high school quarterback who was told he was too short to play the position. He heard the same thing in college and later in the NFL. But, he found success at each level and has the Super Bowl ring to show for it.  

And, along the way, he got a degree in criminology, because his backup plan was to become an FBI agent.

“I had my chips in line,” he said.

Then he made his most important point of the day. Once he landed in the NFL, he was eventually "fired" – cut or released – from every team, one of the more unenjoyable aspects of being a professional athlete.

But, each stop along the way helped him grow and put him in a position to help others.

“My purpose was to go through those things, so that when I come and speak to you guys, it means something.”

Then, after the Williams and Daniels had addressed the students and answered questions, Farrow and Greenberry went around the room again. They asked the sixth graders to not only restate their future career plans, but they asked them to add one thing they can do now to start moving toward that goal.

They asked the students to being finding their purpose.

And then, after an hour with the group, it was time for the students to go home and the athletes to get back to football. But, for that hour, Farrow, Daniels and Williams were more than football players. They were mentors.

They shared their purpose, to help 13 students find theirs.

They gave up a portion of their off day to provide inspiration. They shared more than advice. They delivered a blueprint.

They made that hour their most important of the day. They shared their purpose.