DT Anthony McFarland helps students understand the secrets to making successful decisions
Anthony McFarland has achieved success in his life by almost any measure.
In high school he was an All-State selection in Louisiana. In college he achieved All-American status while earning a degree in business management at Louisiana State University. Since joining the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, McFarland has been a starter at defensive tackle since his second year, and he recently signed a lucrative five-year contract extension to remain in Tampa.
Something else that makes McFarland successful: he is more than willing to share the secrets to his success.
On Tuesday, the former first-round draft pick visited the Franklin and Van Buren Middle Schools and continued his efforts to help the students at those schools achieve their own goals. This was McFarland's second visit this year to each school as part of his 'Booger's Bucs Can Wait' program. His specific initiative is to help these students "get the facts before they act."
"Booger's Bucs Can Wait" works with Hillsborough County middle schools to educate kids on the importance of making informed decisions about issues such as smoking, drinking, using drugs and relationships. Each year, McFarland adopts two middle schools to which he presents a video, passes out informational material and answers questions about how to handle the decision-making process in a responsible manner.
The program is part of McFarland's "I Can Wait Foundation," which encourages teenagers to get the facts before they make decisions that can have lasting impacts on their lives. As a bonus to those who participate in the "Booger's Bucs Can Wait" program, students who take the "I Can Wait" pledge can earn the opportunity to attend a regular season Buccaneers home game as a part of McFarland's invited group.
McFarland will make regular visits to his two adopted schools this year. During Tuesday's second visit, the 6-foot, 300-pound defensive tackle focused on giving the students information about the effects of alcohol, drugs, sexual relationships at a young age and tobacco.
"It's very important to me," said McFarland. "It's an opportunity for me to give the most special thing that I have and that's my time. And it's an opportunity for the kids to understand why I'm successful and why I'm here today and that's because of the decisions and choices that I made when I was young."
McFarland speaks in-depth with the students about what he calls the "four factors." During this particular session, however, eight minutes were used to show a video that included some startling facts about the health effects alcohol, drug and tobacco abuse and the consequences of becoming a teenage mother or father. McFarland admitted that he didn't expect the students to process all of the tape's information, but he hoped they would learn to think about the choices they have when presented with certain situations, and the possible consequences.
"I don't expect you to master the game of life right now," McFarland told the students. "But you can give yourself the greatest chance to be successful if you think about these things now and get the information so you can make an educated choice."
A question-and-answer session followed the viewing of the video. During the Q&A, McFarland spoke about how he was faced with these same choices when he was younger and told the students that while he was definitely tempted at times, his support group gave him the confidence to make the correct decisions. He acknowledged the power of peer pressure but encouraged the students to make their own decisions.
"Everybody wants to fit in," said McFarland. "I was the short, fat kid with the afro and I wanted to be cool, too. Everybody does. The coolest thing you can do though, is be true to yourself."
It's a message that McFarland will try to instill in his young pupils on his subsequent visits to the schools to discuss alcohol, drugs, sexual relationships and tobacco on an individual basis later in the year.
For more information on McFarland's "I Can Wait" Foundation, please visit www.icwfoundation.org.