The Falcons on Wednesday hosted their eighth annual Rookie Club Dinner, where the 2015 class received an official welcome to the organization.
The night was not about football, but about community service, as the newcomers were educated on the importance of giving back. Hosted at the Arthur M. Blank Family Office in Buckhead, the event included speeches from emcee Dave Archer (broadcaster/former QB), Chris Millman (Director of Community Relations), Juliet Veal (Children's Healthcare of Atlanta) and Matt Bryant.
Along with Bryant, fellow veterans Joe Hawley, Malliciah Goodman, William Moore and Jake Matthews were in attendance and shared words of wisdom. Hawley spoke about how much he enjoys working with the military. Matthews mentioned his sister, who has Down syndrome, has inspired him to assist special needs children. Moore recalled a time when a basketball player took him under his wing and kept him on the right path.
And Bryant, who lost one of his sons during infancy, noted how that difficult experience helped him see the value in serving others.
"The thing that always comes to my mind is stay humble," Bryant said to the rookies. "When it comes to giving back … listen to the voice in your head. You never know what's going to come. Just understand that what we do is the best part-time job you'll ever encounter. I say that because you can't do this forever. Capitalize on the moments you do have."
"Just embrace the opportunity," Goodman added. "You don't know how long you're going to be here. By being a part of the Falcons, one thing that's big is giving, community service … Just find out what you're passionate about, what drives you."
After the remarks, Matthews — a member of the 2014 Rookie Club — passed a ceremonial torch to Vic Beasley. Moving forward, the rookies will do some form of community service every Tuesday.
"This event here has opened my eyes," said first-year cornerback Jalen Collins, Atlanta's second round draft pick. "Seeing all the things everyone does — not just one or two guys, but the whole team — it's really inspired me to want to help and give back."