Redskins cornerback and DMV native Josh Wilson appeared at his second community function of the season, today’s “4th And Life” high school football forum at FedExField (alliteration intended).
Wilson had the opportunity to share his unique perspective on high school football, considering he came from the same playgrounds and weight rooms as many of these student athletes. The former DeMatha product remembered the glory days of his team’s state championships, but also shared some far more humbling stories as well.
Wilson said he wasn’t always the polished professional that takes the field on Sundays. Back when he played under Friday night lights, he learned how to be a respectful gentleman.
“Character is ‘the type of person that everyone sees you as.’ It’s not just who you believe you are, or who you want everybody to think you are,” he explained. “You can sit here and say that you’re this type of player or that type of guy, but if nobody takes you seriously, then you aren’t who you say you are. And if you’re the most talented person on the team, but I don’t trust you on the field, then that’s because you aren’t who you think you are.
“You’re not accountable, you don’t take care of the details.”
Wilson recalled two times in high school that he was benched for a lack of respect to the team, his peers and himself.
“That was one problem that I had in high school: I felt like I was smarter than the coach,” he said. “I knew if I ran (a go-route), the other guy wasn’t gonna stop me. So why don’t we call that on every single play? I had that my junior year, and Coach Bosh sat me on the bench and wouldn’t play me.
“What I didn’t understand, is that I was a boy talking to a man. I didn’t know what it took to be a man; I didn’t even understand what it took to respect somebody. And he sat me on the bench and didn’t play me.
“Another coach that I had, Coach Bevill, I had an incident where I wasn’t being respectful to a female in our building. He didn’t play me for a whole game because I wasn’t respectful. I had to realize that I was a boy, and in order to become a man, I needed to give respect to everybody. There is never a time to disrespect a woman. To this day, I still talk to him about how that experience changed my life.”
Both Wilson and emcee Rick ‘Doc’ Walker discussed how image has taken the place of character as a point of emphasis in today’s culture. Style over substance is more than just a generational gap–it’s something that could crush NFL dreams before they even begin.
“Right now, no matter how hard you think you are, or how hard your situation is, you’re still a boy,” Wilson bluntly told the students. “And it’s not cool to sit there and pretend you a thug. I had some friends that liked to pretend we were thugs. Looking back on it, we lived in the suburbs, man; we’re not thugs. We don’t have a tough life.
“It’s not all about being a thug, it’s not all about being tough. It’s about being successful. There ain’t nobody in the NFL that’s a thug. In order to be in the NFL, you have to go to college for at least three years. You can’t be a thug and go to college.”
Wilson had absolute attention from the room as he finished his speech to the student athletes, wrapping it back around to the strength of character and substance.
“So you have to think about what’s more important: for you to be tough or hard, this or that person, or for you to be successful? If you want to be in the NFL, you have to figure out not only how to get into college, but how to stay in college for three years. Is it more important for you to act a certain way, even though you’re not really that way, or is it important for you to do everything you can to be successful?”
>>>See also: Doc Walker has a time and a place for hoodies, and it is never indoors: