Pass It Forward: Former Falcons Provide Advice to HS Football Teams Preparing for Rival Week Game
Rival Week Game
Verizon Wireless and the Atlanta Falcons continued their citywide "Pass It Forward" campaign on Oct. 19 at two Gwinnett County high schools.
As part of Pass It Forward, Falcons alumni, cheerleaders and mascot "Freddie Falcon" take part in six different surprise and delight events for Atlantans at various metro locations with random acts of kindness. The campaign continues throughout the NFL regular season for the second straight year.
On Oct. 19, Falcon alumni Jerious Norwood and DJ Shockley visited Brookwood and Parkview high schools in suburban Gwinnett County to provide a pep talk to the respective teams.
There are three more events surprise and delight events scheduled throughout Atlanta over the next few weeks, including two events in November. To follow the campaign and stay updated on all Pass it Forward events, follow Verizon Wireless' @KateHarrisJay as well as the hashtags #PassItForward, #VerizonATL and #RiseUp on Twitter.
On Sept. 6, Pass It Forward kicked at Fox Bros. BAR-B-Q as cheerleaders bought lunch for more than 175 patrons. Freddie Falcon and the cheerleaders picked up the breakfast tab for more than 180 people at Sublime Doughnuts on Sept. 23.
On Oct. 19, Verizon's Cornelius Miller, Freddie Falcon and the Falcons cheerleaders attended both schools to help encourage the teams as they prepared for their Oc. 21 matchup on Friday night at Brookwood (won by Brookwood in overtime). The Parkview-Brookwood, both Class 7A schools, have one of Metro Atlanta's longest and biggest rivalries. They are also among the state's largest high schools.
Norwood addressed the Brookwood team before practice with an impassioned speech of encouragement and challenges to the players.
Later that day, a few miles down the road DJ Shockley talked to the Parkview squad following their practice about the importance of high school football and how to prepare for big games.
A passionate Norwood shared football experiences and provided encouragement in perfect football coach style.
"You always have to be positive, work hard stay and stay true to the game, Norwood said. "You always want to be honest, show pride and drop the hammer on them on the field. You need one heartbeat as a team."
Norwood preached work ethic, persistence, teamwork, integrity and "sticking by your team" win or lose.
"To get to the next level, you can't ever give up," he said. "This game is about fun, and your teammates. One unit! That's what it takes to win."
Norwood also encouraged the Brookwood team to show integrity no matter the situation.
"It's a one-on-one battle to do right or wrong," he said. "You need to make good decisions and think about what you are doing. Don't be persuaded to do the wrong thing!"
Norwood played six years in the NFL as a running back and electrifying kick returner, including five seasons here with the Falcons from 2006-10. He was selected by the Falcons in the third round of the 2006 NFL draft out of Mississippi State.
The Brandon, Miss., native played four seasons in the SEC at Mississippi State. As a senior, Norwood won the Conerly Award, which is given to the top college player in the state of Mississippi.
Shockley had a similar message for the Parkview team later that afternoon.
"Leave it all on the field men," he told the squad. "Don't take high school football for granted. It's a learning experience, believe in yourself and give everything you have on the field."
Shockley encouraged the team to support each on and off the field, work hard in the weight room, diligently study film and have the passion and drive to get better.
"Nobody can measure how hard you work or what's is in your heart," Shockley said. "Go show them. You also need to believe in each other. It's important that these guys believe in what you and what you are doing well in practice and on Friday nights."
As athletes, Shockley told the team they have the responsibility to be good examples for the younger generations.
"Look at my son here, he's 4 but he doesn't know me as a football player," Shockley said. "But sees that your guys are football players and he looks up to you guys. You are his role models."
Shockley, a former quarterback at the University of Georgia, played four seasons in the NFL with the Falcons from 2006-10. He helped the Bulldogs win SEC titles and 2002 and 2005, and was SEC Championship game MVP in 2005.
He grew up in College Park, Ga., and played football for his father, Donald, at North Clayton High School.
The Pass It Forward campaign's goal is to create a positive social movement that begins with these events, and grows as recipients to "pass it forward" to other unsuspecting community members.
Here are a few more facts about the campaign:
• Verizon and the Falcons have partnered on a citywide random acts of kindness campaign for the second straight year.
• Both Verizon and the Falcons hope that by being the beneficiaries of these community kindness events Atlanta area residents will perform their own acts of random kindness.
• The campaign's goal is to create a positive social movement that begins with these events, and grows as recipients to "pass it forward" to other unsuspecting community members.
• Atlantans are encouraged to share their own personal random acts of kindness using the hashtags #VerizonATL and #RiseUp.
• This provides the perfect opportunity for the Falcons to give back to the most loyal fan base in the NFL. These events are a big thank you to the fans who support the Falcons win or lose.
• Verizon is proud to partner with the Falcons again and show its community spirit. Giving back to the community is important to Verizon on its employees, and support the communities it serves.