Herm Edwards, former NFL coach, player and ESPN analyst, laughed when he recounted his career.
Did I ever think that, as I look back at it now, 30 years of my life would be in professional football alone? he said in an interview with The Oracle. Its provided for me, and given me and my family a way to make a living; but I understand I have to give back to the game of football. Thats a part of your responsibility, as a coach or a player.
Edwards spoke on the importance of giving back to the community at his lecture Wednesday evening. As the first University Lecture Series speaker of the semester, Edwards also spoke to the 434 students in the Marshall Student Center Ballroom about how they can accomplish their goals and about living Martin Luther King Jr.s dream.
We grow up in a world where we think possessions define who we are, Edwards said. Your memories are your prized possessions.
The lecture began with a highlight video of various points in his career as a player, NFL head coach and finally as an in-studio analyst for ESPN.
Edwards began by talking about his childhood, and said his father had been in the military for 27 years. While speaking about hard work, he remembered being 8 years old and having to complete chores around the house with a broom and dust pan.
My father said Son, and he gave me the broom and put it in my hand, Edwards said. I said Yes, sir?. He said Your chore is to sweep the backyard every Saturday before you go out and play. He said Hold this broom real tight, and so I held it tight, and he told me this Dont you ever be afraid of this broom, its called hard work.
A key topic for Edwards during his presentation was the use of cell phones in todays society.
You know what the greatest thing is about a cell phone? Edwards asked the crowd. Everyone has the same time (on their phones). You cant be running late, your time is precious.
While Edwards said cellphones can be useful, he also mentioned their flaws.
We dont talk anymore, Edwards said. Its kind of like Ill text you, and (the other person) is sitting right there!
Edwards said cell phones are distracting society from connecting on a more personal level. He encouraged students to communicate more deeply with others and engage in meaningful conversation.
Edwards recalled watching King on the television as a child, and discussing the event with his father. While watching the event, Edwards said he asked his father why King was giving his speech. He said his father told him, Hes trying to make a difference for you, son.
(King) made a difference for everyone in this room, Edwards said. Whether you believe in what he stood for or not, he made a difference.
Edwards remembered first time that he visited USF in 1996.
From 1996 to right now, whoa, this place has changed, he said. It wasnt by chance. People are trying to make a difference.
At the end of Edwards presentation, the room opened to questions.
Students lined up behind two microphones and asked various questions including topics such as how to become an NFL football player, Edwards commentary on events in football games and how students can make it as a broadcaster or journalist.
Juan Henry, a junior majoring in marketing said he thought Edwards did not disappoint with his presentation.
Hes exactly how he is on ESPN on how he coaches and everything, Henry said. Hes always been a passionate speaker both on and off the field. I think he definitely inspired not just myself, but the entire USF body who came out tonight.
Kelly Altenau, a freshman majoring in pre-athletic training, waited in a line of 50 students after the event for those who wanted an autograph from Edwards.
I thought everything Coach Edwards said was directed towards me, and I took it to heart, she said. Its something Ill keep in mind as Im getting my education these next four years.
Edwards told The Oracle he questioned what students will take from their education and make their own legacy.
You have to ask yourself What are your priorities? he asked. What do you hope to achieve? In your walk through life, you will achieve things and there will be failures. How you handle those? At the end, whatever title you may earn, what will you do with it? That becomes part of your legacy.