Bills safety George Wilson and offensive lineman Brad Butler spoke to nearly 500 students at Burgard High School in Buffalo on Wednesday, April 22. The "That's Life" Educational Speaker Series focused on goal setting and striving for success in life.
Butler spoke to the kids about not being afraid to fail in life and to set goals. He said, "You can't learn, grow or improve yourself without failing, and anyone that tells you different is lying to you. Any success you have is because you failed first. Don't be afraid to fail."
He encouraged students to surround themselves with positive people saying, "Anyone that brings you down and tells you that you can't do something or won't succeed is not your friend. Set some realistic short term, middle and long range goals."
Wilson provided the students with an inspiring speech that focused on challenging the students to take control of their own lives. He shared his struggles of growing up, walking-on to his college football team and playing in the NFL.
The kids eyes were glued to Wilson as he explained his personal examples of how perseverance, never giving up, always working hard and always being prepared led to an eight-second play he made in the NFL. That play was an interception return for a touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football for all to see in his first-ever start. "That one play made all the blood, sweat and tears I put in since the fourth grade worth it," said Wilson.
He told students that might be struggling to not give in to peer pressure and that they have the ability to take charge of their life. Wilson said, "Seize the moment, and don't waste any time because time doesn't repeat itself. It's not about where you're from, it's about where you're going. It's not how you start, it's how you finish."
Wilson ended his speech to the Burgard students sharing one of his favorite quotes, "The past is gone and the future may never come, but now is a gift. That is why we call it the present."
At the end of the assembly, Butler and Wilson entertained some questions and one student asked, "What was your backup plan if you didn't make it in the NFL?" Both Butler and Wilson stressed the importance of their education and how they worked hard to make sure they earned their degrees in case they didn't reach the NFL.
Butler informed the students that the average NFL player's career is only four seasons and that he is constantly preparing himself for a career after football. Wilson noted how important it is to make contacts and surround yourself with knowledgeable people that can help you reach career goals.
This year's speaker series program features trading cards and posters featuring Butler, Wilson and their message courtesy of Xerox. In addition to the appearances at Burgard, the program will make four more visits to Buffalo Public Schools in the coming weeks.