Giants’ Two Time Super Bowl Champion
Dedicates his life to his faith by empowering youth
Former New York Giant Perry Williams 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.
When former New York Giants cornerback and two-time Super Bowl winner Perry Williams says that he tries to “be a positive influence, a positive role model, to do the best I can to make a difference,” it’s a bit of an understatement.
Perry has always made a positive difference, whether it was to the offense on the opposing team that he was somehow always able to catch up with, or to the economically disadvantaged children in New Jersey and New York on whom he lavished free stadium tickets when he played there and found out his team wasn’t going to be using all the tickets to which they were entitled.
And today, Perry is making perhaps his greatest difference of all. With his professional football career behind him, Perry is following a personal mission to touch and transform the lives of young people through a multitude of channels, including as a college instructor, a motivational speaker, a camp director, a curriculum designer, and a spokesperson for Beyond the Laces.
Beyond the Laces, as Perry explains, is a collaboration between himself and Bob Salomon, who has written a children’s book and created a movement by that same name. Beyond the Laces is intended to inspire children and families to face life’s challenges and obstacles courageously. It promotes the importance of kindness and the message that persistence and faith can overcome any adversity.
The message of succeeding through persistence and faith is also the story of Perry’s life. He reflects upon his humble upbringing in the sandhills of North Carolina. Despite the absence of a father in the household, Perry believed his life to be a balanced one. “My grandma and my mom instilled in me all the right values: manners, respect, obedience, and all the other qualities that are vital for a young man or young lady when they are growing up. I had a strong foundation of love and compassion.”
Attending their Southern Baptist church was a major factor in Perry’s upbringing. “By the grace of God, I grew up to be a spiritual person. I realized early on nothing was going to be handed to me and I would have to work for what I wanted to achieve.”
Perry set his sights on a professional football career at the age of six – and proved to himself and those around him that even a small child can have the persistence to follow through on a dream. With the help of coaches, mentors, and an attentive uncle along with his mother and grandmother, he worked hard as an athlete and as a student. That commitment and diligence made it possible for him to attend North Carolina State, where his success on the football field resulted in his being drafted by the New York Giants after graduation.
But all the acclaim and attention he was garnering as a football player came at a price, as it so often does. Publicity, Perry now says, is even more of a trap than financial gain. “When enough people start telling you how great you are, you start to believe it,” he says. “That was what happened to me. I got lackadaisical and put my spiritual beliefs aside. I forgot that it was through the grace of my true God that I was there. I stopped going to church; I put aside many of my spiritual practices.”
A rude awakening caused him to change his ways abruptly. During a pre-season game against the Jets in the season following the Giants’ 1987 Super Bowl win, Perry made a tackle, landed on the ground, and found he couldn’t get up. Not only that, he couldn’t move at all. And that was when he heard a booming voice asking him, “Who’s your daddy now? Who’s the big dog now?”
It was the voice of God, Perry believes, putting him in his place. Instantly he regained his sense of humility, acknowledging that his fate was entirely in God’s hands. He recognized at that moment that it was God who had landed him flat on his back unable to move and it would be God who decided what would happen next.
“ I closed my eyes and said ‘God, you’re the boss. If you let me get up, I will change my ways. I will regain my sense of humility and I will never again think I’m bigger than you.’ I lay there praying, asking for forgiveness for my sins. And God decided to spare me.”
Today, Perry works as Director of Outreach for Fairleigh Dickinson University in addition to his role at Beyond the Laces. His university job involves designing curricular units and outreach programs for students of all ages to develop self-esteem and cultivate leadership skills. He has also initiated free summer sports camp programs for young people in the Raleigh-Durham area.
Perry is very excited about his new partnership with Bob Salomon and the Beyond the Laces initiative. Because the movement is based on kindness, he expects it to give many more kids the ability to lead a very fulfilling life and to inspire the same in others.
And again, Perry gives more credit to God than to himself. Four years before meeting Bob and finding out about Beyond the Laces, Perry was at a restaurant in New Jersey. A gentleman approached him and, despite the fact that Perry was surrounded by a group of friends, the man spoke directly to him, saying, “I can see you are a man of God. Don’t be afraid to accept it.”
“Less than a minute later, I excused myself and went outside to follow him,” Perry recalls. ”But when I got outside, there wasn’t a car or a person in sight. I thought at that moment, ‘That was an angel talking.’”
The second visitation happened shortly after Perry had met Bob Salomon and been invited to serve as spokesperson for Beyond the Laces. He was in a store when a stranger said to him, “Are you doing what God told you to do?”
“I looked at him and just kind of backed off,” Perry recalled. “He said to me, ‘I was sent to ask you this question: Are you doing what God told you to do?’ I said, ‘I think so. I’m trying to make a difference in my life.’ He said ‘No, God wants you to work with young people. Things are going to happen, and you won’t believe how big this is going to be.’ And then all this stuff happened with Bob and with Beyond the Laces. And whoever that man was, an angel or whatever, he was right. I can’t believe I have been chosen for such an important role in helping young people to make more of their lives.”
With his lifelong commitment to helping others and staying on the right spiritual path, Perry Williams embodies the spirit, drive, and character of a member of the Insightful Player team.
Instant replay of Perry Williams’ Guiding Principles:
Put your relationship with your God at the center of your life. Never let pride or any other emotion blind you to the importance of God’s grace and God’s will.
Show respect for other people, especially those older than you. Rely on traditional manners in your dealings with people: behave with deference, good manners, and appreciation for them.
Honor your family and other mentors. Look for good guidance, whether it comes from parents, grandparents, neighbors, friends, or coaches, and follow the advice of people you respect.
Don’t see money or material acquisition as a worthwhile goal. Once you do, no amount of money will seem like enough, but if you never give it a place of preeminence in your life, you will always maintain the right values.
Reach out and lend a helping hand anywhere and anytime you can.
Make it your mission to encourage everyone around you.
Be a generous, proactive, and caring leader within your community, whether that community is made up of your family, your neighbors, your colleagues, your teammates, or your friends. Show others how to do the right thing by doing the right thing yourself.
Set goals and do not lose sight of those goals. You can achieve whatever you want to achieve, if you keep your goals in sight and follow a clearly established path to attain them.
Lead a purposeful life. Embrace goals that go beyond yourself and contribute to the betterment of others.It is in giving that we experience the most joy and fulfillment.
The Insightful Player® series is brought to you by Coach Chrissy Carew, Hall of Fame Master Certified and Board Certified Personal and Business Coach, and Author of 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. Insightful Player® was created to
to transform culture into an inclusive, kinder, and more loving place by inspiring youth. To contact Chrissy Carew visit http://www.insightfulplayer.com or call her landline: 603-897-0610.
©2009 Insightful Player, LLC