Updated: Jul 16
Photo, courtesy of the New England Patriots
New England Patriots Hall of Famer Andre Tippett
A Giant of a Man in Football, Karate, and Everyday Integrity
Street life posed tough challenges for a boy growing up in Newark, New Jersey, in the 1960s. So NFL Hall of Famer Andre Tippett, who moved to that city from Alabama with his mother and sister when he was seven years old, turned to the martial arts to learn to defend himself. What he discovered in the dojo (karate studio) turned out to be much more than just self-defense on the street: he learned the critical importance of mind-body balance. “Karate instructors always talk about mind, body and spirit, and how you can’t have one without the other,” he says.
This sense of balance was just one of the ideas that formed young Andre’s moral compass. As a freshman in high school, Andre tried out unsuccessfully for the football team. The brush with rejection only strengthened his resolve to make the team another year. He joined the wrestling team to build his strength, watched every football game and practice, and consequently made the JV football squad the following year. Before that season ended, he was sent up to the varsity team, which went on to win the state championship.
Andre Tippett and Tom Matlack (Co-Founder of The Good Men Project) at theBelmont Hill School
Along with developing the skills that would lead him to a career in the NFL, Andre met one of the great influences of his life at this time: his high school coach, Frank Verducci. “Coach Verducci became an inspiration and a disciplinarian for me, a father figure in my life who was constantly on all of us to lead by example and do the right thing. To this day, whenever I need to talk to somebody, I can call him and tell him just about anything.” From then on, Andre strove to serve as a role model to others, just as his coach did for him.
He married the love of his life, Rhonda, and the couple had four children. Spiritual faith has always played a significant role in his attitude, and so has a belief in the necessity of humility. When fans tell him how much his example has meant to them, he reminds himself that “There are people out there who are saving lives, curing cancer, so many things out there that are much bigger than who I am. I have to have the humility to understand that I didn’t get here alone. I had people who were watching my back and helping me along the way. As a kid, I could have taken the right turn versus the left turn just as easy as the next kid. But because of the people that were constantly giving me good advice, I made the right decisions.”
And his importance as a role model has not ended. Along with working for the New England Patriots as Executive Director of Community Affairs, he is featured in the Good Men Project, an endeavor that recruits male role models to help build and sustain national discussion about being a good father, son, husband, partner and worker. The same fundamental tenets that led him from a poverty-stricken childhood in Newark to the height of an NFL career make him a vital part of the Good Men Project and the Insightful Player® campaign. He is a giant of a man whom children and adults alike can look to as an example of living a principle-guided life.
As not only one of the most respected professional athletes in the NFL – a linebacker who played 11 seasons with the New England Patriots – but also a man who continues to awe people with his kindness, sincerity and enormous devotion to family and faith – Andre has the mind, heart and soul of an Insightful Player®.
Instant replay of Andre’s guiding principles:
Children raised with discipline, love and expectations from their parents will always have principles to follow.
No matter what level of success you have attained, keep working and keep striving.
Recognize your responsibility as a role model. Be aware of how your choices and behavior affect the decisions of those who look up to you as well as your own.
If you encounter rejection or failure, double your resolve to make the cut next time around.
Surround yourself with people who have your best interests at heart and listen to what they tell you.
Believe in God and acknowledge the positive influences of a higher power.
Retain a sense of humility. Remember that there are always people doing more important or worthy things than what you are doing.
Allow yourself to have dreams and to do all you can to follow them.
The Insightful Player® series is brought to you by Coach Chrissy Carew, Hall of Fame Master Certified Personal and Business Coach and Author of her newly released book, INSIGHTFUL PLAYER: Football Pros Lead A Bold Movement of Hope. Chrissy has been deeply inspired by her father, the late Coach Walter Carew, Sr. Her father is in several Halls of Fame as a high school football coach and baseball coach (as well as high school and college athlete). He used sports to help kids build strong character and teach them valuable life skills. The Insightful Player® initiative was created to help make our world a much better place by inspiring youth. To contact Chrissy Carew visit http://www.insightfulplayer.com or call 603-897-0610.
©2010 Insightful Player, LLC
Andre Tippett is a valued member of the Insightful Player® team. To be named to this team, one must be a person of integrity, such as a current or former NFL player, who shares their personal message of hope for the sole purpose of lifting the spirits of all, especially children.