A titan pays forward
Drawing on experiences from a successful career in professional football and business, Buckeye legend Eddie George is giving back and preparing the next generation of sports leaders — as a teacher.
If there is one lesson I learned during my time at Ohio State, it’s that the concept of “paying forward” is as powerful as the man who spent his lifetime embracing the mantra.
That belief is what brought me back to Ohio State this year — not as a coach, administrator or fundraiser, but as a teacher. Yes, 20 years after last stepping foot inside an Ohio State classroom, I was back leading a management course with Dr. David Greenberger, associate dean for staff, human resources and administration and a professor of management and human resources at Fisher College of Business.
Training with the pros
My goal for the course — Leveraging Athletics for Business and Personal Success — was to provide a 360-degree perspective on the life cycle of professional sports, topics that included contract law and the role of agents, financial advisors and business managers.
For perspective on many of these crucial subjects, we proudly welcomed to campus a number of prominent sports figures, including Fred Whitfield, president and chief operating officer of the Charlotte Hornets; super-agent Leigh Steinberg; Troy Vincent, executive vice president of football operations for the NFL; and Zac Minor, a trained actor whose skit-based “Life Skills” program has become a critical part of player development in the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL.
The excitement and interest from the students were overwhelming. Seeing them so actively engaged with the curriculum and in tune with these leaders in sports was inspiring and humbling. I never thought I’d be teaching anything. Looking back, I guess I was one of those students who struggled to stay awake in class. So now, having been on the other side of the classroom, I applaud and commend the professors at Ohio State because it’s a hard job to do.
Regardless of all the hard work that went into creating the course and teaching it, I can honestly say it was worth every minute. It was gratifying, liberating and therapeutic. Every week I gave a part of myself, and in return I saw the light bulb switched on for all the future athletes, agents, business managers and financial advisors in that classroom.
The importance of giving back
The course wasn’t an opportunity for me to tell war stories, but to give the students something pertinent, something real to draw on as they work through their own challenges.
Like all Ohio State alumni, giving back is a part of who we are. Thinking about the number of athletes who come through Ohio State and how much of an economic driver sports are, I wanted to come back and teach something that, to my knowledge, hasn’t been taught before at this university.
This was something that was very near and dear to me. I wanted to leverage my network and my experiences to benefit future professional athletes and business leaders.
Giving back and paying forward can take so many forms — be it through time, talent or treasure — and each of these vehicles has a tremendous impact on Ohio State students.
If there’s anything my athletic career and my business ventures have taught me, it’s that there’s great power in engagement. I wanted to do something more for Ohio State than to give financially. I wanted to share with these future leaders my knowledge and my experiences with the hopes that someday, they’ll draw upon them to better themselves and their communities.
This opportunity to teach — to give back — vividly illustrated for me the incredible transformation that is happening in classrooms throughout The Ohio State University. Every day, I’m thankful for the opportunities that my Buckeye experiences have provided me and, like so many other proud alumni, look forward to continuing to make an impact on the lives of Ohio State students.