Even as a key cog in the great Redskins defensive lines of the 1980s, former Redskins defensive tackle Darryl Grant stayed focused on the "big picture": Life after football. For some, it begins after a 10-year NFL career. For most, it begins after high school or college.
Grant, who played for the Redskins from 1981-90 and won two Super Bowl rings, was part of the Redskins Charitable Foundation's 4th & Life Senior Football Forum on Tuesday at FedExField.
He joined Redskins great Brig Owens and current players Derrick Frost, Rock Cartwright and Rich Parson at the forum, designed to help local high school student-athletes prepare for college and life after football.
Grant said he devised a game plan--just like his Redskins game plan on game days--for transitioning to the business world once his playing days over. He is now the owner of a gourmet food line, Tailgate Foods, among other ventures.
"A big part of my game plan was hustle," he said. "You can live your dreams. You just have to work hard."
Grant arrived in Washington as a 9th-round draft pick. He made his mark in Redskins lore in the 1982 NFC Championship game when he intercepted a tipped pass and ran 10 yards for a touchdown, helping to seal the Redskins' 34-17 win over the Dallas Cowboys. He would go on to become the first Redskins defensive lineman to record 100 tackles in a season.
Brig Owens, a Redskins defensive back from 1966-77 and one of the franchise's 70 Greatest players, continued the event's "game plan" theme by encouraging students to take advantage of their opportunities.
"You have a chance to be an architect and construct your own future," said Owens, who has completed his law degree and worked in several business ventures since retiring from football. "Don't let anybody tell you that you can't achieve your dreams."
Another Redskins late-round draft pick, running back Rock Cartwright, encouraged the students to "put your all in everything you do." As one of the Redskins' special teams stars, Cartwright talked about identifying and executing goals.
Cartwright's goal? In high school, he strived to play in the NFL, but he knew he had a lot to overcome, given his 5-7 height. Most NFL teams do not target players of his stature. So he attended a junior college before moving on to star at Kansas State. In the 2002 NFL Draft, he was selected by the Redskins in the seventh round.
"At Redskins Park, we wear T-shirts that say 'Execution Under Pressure,'" Cartwright said. "Regardless if it's football or if it's a life decision, you have to execute when you need to and be accountable for your actions. You have to let others know that they can depend on you."
Punter Derrick Frost was like many of the high school student-athletes on hand, in that during high school and college, he was uncertain of his future. Frost was even uncertain what football position to play. As the son of a football coach, he played linebacker, safety, place kicker and punter during high school.
By his sophomore season at Northern Iowa University, Frost developed into a solid punter and latched on with several NFL teams after college. He hopes to have found a home in Washington.
"I didn't dream about going to the NFL when I was in high school," Frost said. "It was never an NFL-or-bust deal with me. But I always worked hard at everything I did.
"What I've found in playing football is that it can give you an advantage in the workplace because you learn to work as a team. It teaches you how to lose, how to put yourself on the line, how to handle adversity and how to bounce back."
The 4th & Life Senior Football Forum, which was preceded by a similar freshman forum last month, is one of the Redskins Charitable Foundation's signature community programs. The event, emceed by radio personality Chris Paul, was sponsored by Coca-Cola.
In addition to the forum, the Charitable Foundation has partnered with Junior Achievements to create curriculum guides that have been sent to more than 5,000 high school students participating in the 4th & Life program.