Former NFL player encourage students to follow their dreams

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By Rachel Johnson, Staff Writer

SHALLOTTE—Freeze and think about the consequences.


That was the message shared at two area middle schools Tuesday.

Former NFL player Levar Fisher shared his message with students at Shallotte and Cedar Grove middle schools.

Fisher played for the New Orleans Saints and the Arizona Cardinals after playing college football at N.C. State University.

From a young age his dream was to play in the NFL, but those around him weren’t always supportive.

“Don’t let anybody tell you, you can’t,” Fisher said. “Hold onto your dream. Go out there with everything you have.”

Fisher called his mother a dream-maker. She always supported his dream of reaching the NFL even when others discouraged him.

“Dream-makers can be teachers, parents, coaches; they are the people that when you stumble and fall tell you to get back up–that you can do it. Those are the ones you want to listen too,” Fisher told students. “If your dreams are big enough, the facts in your life don’t matter.”

Fisher said his friends laughed when he told them he wanted to play in the NFL. He said no one from his hometown had ever played in the NFL and it had been 26 years since anyone from his high school was awarded a full scholarship to play college football.

“The facts don’t matter,” he said. “Split-second decisions you will make will either derail you or take you to the top…Dreams come true but it starts with a dream of you believing in yourself.”

Fisher said in the ninth grade he was “a little chubby dude.” There was one guy on the football team who always picked on him.

At one practice the entire team surrounded Fisher and the guy started pointing in his face and yelling, “You’re fat, you’re slow.”

“They were laughing at me and saying I was never going to make it to the NFL,” he recalled. “Those were the worst days of my life. I went home and told my father I was going to quit, that I wasn’t going back.”

His father told him he wasn’t a quitter and encouraged him to continue playing football.

Fisher did, and he says the experience became his motivator.

He started eating healthier, running faster and working hard to achieve his dream playing in the NFL. By his sophomore year of high school he was the No. 1 player on the team. By his junior year he had been offered a full college scholarship to play just about anywhere he wanted.

“Don’t ever let anybody tell you what you cannot do or achieve in life,” Fisher told students. “Don’t ever let someone get you so down you give up on your dream. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I wanted to quit when I walked off that football field because of what everyone thought of me…Even when I got to N.C. State the guys said I wasn’t big enough or strong enough.

“To get where you want to get in life, you have to be purpose-driven. In life there are obstacles in your way. You have to be zoned in on where you want to go…Sometimes we have to let haters in our lives become motivators.”

Fisher was named the best defensive player in 2000 and 2001. He was named first team All-ACC in 1999, 2000 and 2001 and consensus All-American in 2000 and 2001. He was a Butkus semi-finalist for best linebacker in the country in 2000 and 2001 and a Nagurski finalist for best defensive player in the country in 2000. He led the nation in tackles.

Fisher says his greatest honor was being named Academic All-American.

In 2002, Fisher was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals. In 2007, he joined the New Orleans Saints. His NFL career ended while playing for the Saints as a result of a knee injury.

After the end of his NFL career, Fisher became a motivational speaker, talking to students throughout the country about following their dreams and thinking before they act.

Fisher talked about the moment his lifelong dream came true.

“This is where it got real. All the practice I did, the sweat I put out, my dreams came true…it was my first NFL game. I was jumping around the locker room, high-fiving everyone,” he said. “I knew my family, friends and my girlfriend were watching. I was going to be on ESPN. It was an unbelievable feeling.

“Everybody who ever said I couldn’t make it was watching this game…I was running as fast as I could, and I looked up and saw three of the biggest, ugliest dudes I’d ever seen in my life. All I had time to do was put my shoulder out…I got knocked completely out in my first NFL game. My friends, family and girlfriend were watching, plus I’m on ESPN and they played it in slow motion.”

He reminded students one split-second decision can change your life forever. He encouraged students to “freeze and think about the consequences on your life. That freeze can literally save your life and alter your life forever.”


Rachel Johnson is a staff writer at The Brunswick Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or rjohnson@brunswickbeacon.com.