Former Falcon gets students exercising their minds, too


Each time former Atlanta Falcons defensive end Tim Green finished a chapter, he asked the 75 or so students assembled in the library at Parkside Elementary School in Atlanta earlier this month if he should stop. Each time, they egged him on, pleading for him to continue.

He was reading “Kid Owner,” the 16th of his childrens books, all published by Harper Collins. Afterward, the students would be ushered down the hall for an hour of rope climbing, football throwing, running and other activities.

As part of its Play 60 program, launched in 2007, the NFL has advocated for kids to have 60 minutes of physical activity a day to keep their bodies healthy and in shape. Green takes that a step further, with 20 minutes of reading to exercise the brain as well.

“I’m not curing cancer or creating world peace,” he said, “but it’s my own way of giving back.

“Teachers have been saying for years that reading for about 20 minutes a day enhances a child’s skills,” Green said. “The idea that all you have to do is play for 60 minutes a day to be physically fit, that’s something the NFL is promoting across the country. Kids can also read 20 minutes a day and make themselves stronger mentally and build their character.”

Writing books was a suitable part of the retirement plan for Green, now 52 and living in New York. He’s also a licensed attorney.

Green’s first book, “Ruffians,” came out around the time he retired from the league in 1993. He wrote 16 adult books before being approached by Harper Collins about writing for a younger audience. He never knew the move would be life-changing.

“The difference? I love the audience,” he said after reading to the Parkside students. “I love kids getting excited about reading.”

Soon, an idea was formed to combine the NFL’s Play 60 program with a reading component. A world-class athlete himself, Green said it was a natural fit to incorporate exercise into his reading sessions at schools across the country. And many states have begun programs pushing children to read 20 minutes a day outside of the classroom, which has been proven to improve literacy, listening skills and academic performance.

“My mission,” he said, “really is to get them to read.”

The NFL has committed more than $325 million to Play 60. To date, more than 73,000 schools have had programs created for more than 38 million students.

“We are thrilled former NFL players like Tim Green are positively impacting our youngest fans by encouraging kids to stay active and live healthy lifestyles,” an NFL spokeswoman said via email.

During his Atlanta trip, Green also read and gave out books at other schools. Some of his trips are funded by the schools he visits. From those earnings, he buys books for those at less-fortunate stops.

“That’s why I do it,” Green said after passing out copies of a book to the students at Parkside. “I love seeing that reaction to know that kids are enjoying my stories. I do well enough to where I don’t have to ask them to buy books.”

NFL Play 60 program: Things to know

According to the NFL, its program encouraging physical activity for students has changed this year in several ways, including:

• The NFL and American Heart Association released an updated version of a free NFL PLAY 60 app, where users can virtually race through “Super Bowl 50.”

• Washington Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan will appear in videos leading middle-school students through workouts as part of the NFL PLAY 60 Challenge, designed to inspire activity.

• The NFL and Shriners Hospitals for Children teamed to create a free NFL PLAY 60 All-Ability Guide, which includes activities to help children with physicaldisabillities to live active lives.

• This fall, the NFL and the National Dairy Council launched Fuel Up to Play 60 en español, extending resources to Spanish-speaking communities.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Education

Grade inflation on the rise: Everybody gets an A. 
Grade inflation on the rise: Everybody gets an A. 

In 2015, Montgomery County, Md., decided to stop giving final exams in its high schools. Parents in the high-achieving district were frustrated with testing, maintaining it narrowed curriculum and inhibited creativity. But the elimination of final exams produced a result that is now troubling some parents and teachers -- soaring grades. As the Washington...
Senate school safety committee recommends changes to ESPLOST
Senate school safety committee recommends changes to ESPLOST

The state senate’s school-safety panel recommends adding hundreds of mental health professionals, and expanding school districts’ taxing power to pay for them. In its final meeting Tuesday, the Georgia Senate School Safety Study Committee unanimously voted on a plan to present to the State Legislature in January. The proposal&rsquo...
Lawmakers consider changing school calendars
Lawmakers consider changing school calendars

Georgia lawmakers considering more uniformity in the setting of school calendars heard Wednesday from state education officials, child advocates, a school boards lobbyist and a family farmer who caters to tourists.  The committee comprises a mix of elected officials and appointees, including representatives of the tourism industry. The goal: decide...
Georgia Southern gets record $5 million donation
Georgia Southern gets record $5 million donation

Georgia Southern University has received its largest donation ever, $5 million from a local business leader that will be used for its business college. The state’s Board of Regents on Tuesday approved the name of the Gregory M. Parker College of Business at Georgia Southern University after the donor, the founder and CEO of Savannah-based...
Effort to get more Atlanta graduates to college succeeding
Effort to get more Atlanta graduates to college succeeding

Before he graduated from Mays High School this year, when he was still figuring out where to go to college and how to pay for it, Governor Brown started getting texts from his advisers. The messages came regularly, with information about SAT and ACT tests and reminders about college tours. His mom got texts too. He got to know the college advisers...
More Stories