Worth Watching: NFL Characters Unite

If you have kids, anywhere from elementary school to high school age, sit down Friday night for an hour and watch NFL Characters Unite on the USA Network.

It’s a powerful hour of where four very recognizable NFL names share their personal stories of facing hate and discrimination with four young people that are currently trying to deal with the same situations. It’s on at 6 p.m. CST on USA. Here’s a short video that provides a taste of what the documentary is about.

There’s Pittsburgh WR Hines Ward talking about race discrimination because he’s half Korean and was raised in this country. There’s New Orleans TE Jimmy Graham talking about being abandoned by his mother and surviving the trauma of going it alone. There’s former Indianapolis coach Tony Dungy’s story of discrimination in high school that almost caused him to quit the football team.

And there is the familiar face of former Chiefs-current Atlanta TE Tony Gonzalez, who talks about being bullied by two older students as he was growing up and being so afraid of them that he did not want to leave his house.

“It’s hard to find anyone one who hasn’t had to overcome something in their lives,” Gonzalez said last week in Indianapolis, while attending the Super Bowl. “But when you are a kid going through the trauma, it feels like you are alone. We just wanted to let these young people know that there are people that will help.”

Gonzalez was paired with Jonathan, a young man in the Atlanta area who was being bullied and frankly admits he considered killing himself. For the Gonzalez, it was like looking into a mirror of his frustrations 20 years ago.

“This is the same exact experience I went through,” said Gonzalez. “I can tell he didn’t really want to come out and open up right away. But the more time we spent talking and me opening up about my experience, he became more comfortable, and you could see him feel better.”

Gonzalez has already signed a contract for the 2012 season with the Falcons, so he’s planning to return.

“My wife told me this is it, one more year,” Gonzalez said. “It’s the first time she’s ever said anything like that. Our kids are getting to the age where I need to be around to help with them.”

One Response to “Worth Watching: NFL Characters Unite”

  • February 10, 2012  - Blake says:

    I hope Tony gets his ring but I don’t see it happening with Atlanta this year. Unless Matt Ryan steps up, they will be one and done in the playoffs.

    Would have been nice to see Tony go to the Giants and win his Super Bowl ring!

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