The NFL conducted a virtual program called. “NFL Presents: Drafting Mentors for the Future,” hosted by NFL Network’s Kimmi Chex which included former Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis, Arizona Cardinals offensive tackle Kelvin Beachum, executive director of The Mentoring Partnership of Southwestern Pennsylvania (a MENTOR affiliate) Colleen Fedor, and Artis Stevens — President and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.
It was hosted by Inspire Change, the NFL’s social justice platform focused on reducing barriers to opportunity.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Anna Isaacson, the league’s senior vice president of social responsibility, also attended.
NFL hosts ‘Drafting Mentors for the Future’ virtual event
“Today was exciting as we were proud to host our first-ever virtual Inspire Change NFL Presents: Drafting Mentors for the Future event,” said Isaacson. “The productive and lively conversation provided an opportunity to hear from incredible leaders in the mentoring movement, explore how mentoring helps young people reach their full potential in a changing world, the concept of everyday mentoring and understand how we can recruit mentors for the future.
“We know this is the first of many more impactful and open conversations around our Inspire Change platform and its four pillars and we will continue to work with our 32 clubs and players across the league as we fight against racial inequalities and open access to all. ”
Goodell added: “I rely on mentors in my life every day. They help me in my professional career and in my personal life. Inspire Change is something that has been a major focus for us and is inspired by our players.
Importance of mentoring
Thomas Davis, retired Pro Bowl Carolina Panthers linebacker and Walter Payton Man of the Year, discussed something important: the value of mentorship.
“You don’t have to be perfect to be a mentor,” Thomas said. “I feel like my role is to let them know, ‘These are things you can work on.’ I talk to young people about things you’re going through in your life, it’s important to be authentic.
During the hour-long Zoom call, the importance of mentoring youth and addressing “educational resource gaps in low-income and historically disenfranchised communities of color” was highlighted, as well as to “provide personalized support and advocacy to students, expand personal and professional relationships, and strengthen communities.
The discussion centered on navigating the intersections of technology, mental health, and education, and recruiting, training, supporting, and retaining mentors of color.
“The most important thing is to take the time to get to know them and invest in that relationship,” Beachum said. “Just do it your way. For me, it takes time to talk to young people in the markets where I have played. They need to see someone who has done it and talk to the next generation of leaders.