LUMBERTON — The same hands that Charlie Brown used to reel in 3,548 yards and 25 touchdowns as two-time Pro Bowl receiver during his career in the NFL were reaching out and rewarding a pair of Lumberton football players Thursday for their hard work in the classroom.
Brown, who played six years in the NFL as a wide receiver for the Washington Redskins and the Atlanta Falcons, uses his retirement to help educate kids, and to help incentive some of the areas best student-athletes in the classroom. Brown makes visits at the schools to hand out signed footballs, photos and Pro Bowl gear, like he did with Lumberton’s Tavieon Pratt and Michael Bryan.
“What I’m doing in the area, I’m awarding kids with the highest math test scores, which is very important,” he said to the pair. “Since you guys had Pro Bowl-performances, I got some paraphernalia from the 2018 Pro Bowl.
“It’s a great feeling because it feels like I’m passing the torch and at least give the kids an idea of what success and hard work are like.”
With the two best math scores on the team, both players were pleased to have their hard work in the classroom be noticed.
“My dreams and aspirations, and my parents really push me. I’m trying to go to college and have a good life,” Bryan said. “In football, they push us to have good grades and if you’re struggling in class they will help you out.”
Bryan is a junior who was a running back for the varsity football team this past season.
“It’s a good feeling knowing that you put the work in and you get noticed,” Pratt said. “For me, knowing what you want to do outside of school, you have to get it done here first.”
On the jayvee team, Pratt played on the offensive line during his 10th-grade season.
“I want to recognize them for their hard work and achievements,” Brown said. “We all know how important academics is. And when you have academics and athletics together, it’s a powerful punch.”
Brown has provided memorabilia to students for several years in South Carolina, reaching out to schools in his hometown of Charleston along with the Florence and Columbia areas, and Lumberton is his the first stop in North Carolina. For him, he sees this as another way to help keep kids motivated to excel in the classroom.
“This is just to motivate the kids, whether or not they play football in the future, just to go to college and have great self esteem to make them work harder,” he said. “Also it motives their teammates so they can win the award next year.
“God has blessed me with being a pro football player and as an educator. He wants me to give back and that’s one of the main reasons why I do things like this.”
Brown was a Pro Bowl selection his first two years in the NFL for Washington, when it went to Super Bowls XVII and XVIII. In the first appearance, the Redskins defeated the Miami Dolphins. In his first two seasons, Brown was quarterback Joe Theismann’s top target leading the team in touchdown grabs, with eight each season, and in receiving yards.
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977 or by email at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.