May 15, 2014
NFL Player Engagement representative Chris Draft spoke to the University of Cincinnati football team Wednesday on character development.
Draft's two-hour long discussion, which covered a wide range of topics, was the first in a series of leadership and life skills development sessions the Bearcats will take part in during the summer break.
Draft is a Stanford graduate and spent 13 years in the NFL with a total of seven franchises. He is currently a representative from the NFL’s Player Engagement Program, which focuses on optimizing and revolutionizing the personal and professional growth of football players through continuous guidance and support before, during and beyond the NFL experience. Throughout his career, he was known for being active in the community and devoting time to aiding fellow players. In 2006, he began speaking at the Rookie Symposium, which catapulted him to his current position within the Player’s Engagement Program following his playing career.
Of all the topics discussed, Draft feels that developing one’s character is the most important.
“I think it all comes back to character,” said Draft. “Your ability to take a hard look at yourself individually and then make goals and have the ability to pursue those goals. If you are able to do those things, then that will lineup with everything else to develop a plan for your future.”
For some people, developing character is difficult and takes practice, but it was something Draft developed at a very young age.
“My folks were the ones that stressed that from an early age,” Draft said. “I give people an example that I started playing soccer when I was five-years old, and I didn’t exactly want to practice. My folks made it clear that if I didn’t practice then I wouldn’t be able to play. So it wasn’t my talent or how good I was. They just made it clear when I was five that it was the way I went about my work that would matter in the long run. I think that has followed me my whole life.”
Draft’s presentation lasted nearly two hours and featured real-life stories and experiences to drive home how important these topics are since a slim percentage of college football players make it onto an NFL roster.
The Bearcats’ summer long series is organized by UC’s Director of Player Development Antrione Archer, who provides guidance and ensures players are adhering to program goals and policies regarding intellectual, social, spiritual, physical, and skill development.