Bucks County Herald

Former NFL player challenges students to pursue



After his presentation, NFL alumnus Lonnie Allgood chats with students at Delaware Valley Regional High School in Frenchtown, N.J.

Former NFL wide receiver Lonnie Allgood tackled the Delaware Valley Regional High School student body like a lineman, starting off by challenging the value of their smartphones, demanding, “Have you ever learned anything life-changing from your phone?”

In two talks in the auditorium on Wednesday, Nov. 22, he told the students to work hard, be punctual, show respect, be thankful, be humble, and listen to the right people. Despite his gruff, pugnacious delivery, dozens of students came forward afterward to shake his hand and thank him for coming.

Allgood played football for Syracuse University, the Cincinnati Bengals, the New Orleans Saints and the Buffalo Bills before his accumulated injuries retired him at age 28. Currently he lives in Somerset, N.J., and is CEO of the nonprofit Dreams for Kids.

“Lonnie Allgood’s message of personal responsibility was right on target,” said Principal Adrienne Olcott. “It was a message for kids struggling with adversity, and for kids who don’t know what real adversity is. He gave us all plenty to think about.”

Allgood grew up on a farm in North Carolina, living in a two-bedroom house without plumbing. He said he had eight siblings and an off-premises father who was drunken and abusive. His father told him he was “worthless,” and his fiercely loving mother told him he was “born for greatness” – and had better behave accordingly. He chose to listen to his mother, and asked the students, “Who are you listening to?”

Allgood learned to “respect people’s time” in eighth grade when he was 13 minutes late for supper. His mother’s reprisals are still paying dividends; he showed up at Del Val at 8:30, when his first presentation was set for 10.

Also around eighth grade, a note home from his history teacher cost him a year of football. Education was his mother’s Plan A. She had little regard for football. Later on she told him prophetically that NFL stands for: Not For Long.

Allgood also shared his three-H credo: hard work; stay hungry for your dreams; stay humble – you’re not that good.

Other advice included:

“Do you know the difference between right and wrong? Then why are you still doing wrong?”

About student-on-student cruelty: “With the same mouth I can tear you down or lift you up … our words are powerful.”

On girls’ self-image issues: “It’s the biggest disease in this country.” Waving a magazine, he said you don’t have to look like cover girl Jennifer Aniston to be beautiful. (“I’m not worried about the guys; we all think we’re George Clooney.”)

On self-destruction: “Each one of us has a purpose and a gift. If you go off and not be here, a piece of the puzzle is missing.”

Moved by his experiences on recent church missions to the Dominican Republic on the island of Hispanola, Allgood told about a boy named Juan. The boy dreamed of going to the U.S. and learning to be a dentist, so he could come back and fix the sugar-cane rotted teeth of half-starved island kids. He’d swim here if he could, but he told Allgood, “There are too many sharks.”

Allgood asked the auditorium full of young Americans, “What’s keeping you from greatness?”

He will be back at Del Val in Frenchtown, N.J., on Feb. 24 to stage a basketball game between local teams and clean-living NFL players and NFL alumni. The event will benefit Del Val’s Project Graduation. More information will be released closer to the event.

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