Former Saints running back speaks to Natchez Falcons

Published 12:18 am Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat — Former New Orleans Saints running back Deuce McAllister talks to the Natchez Falcons football players before afternoon practice Monday.

NATCHEZ — Deuce McAllister wasted no time talking to members of the Natchez Falcons youth football team about maintaining good grades.

In fact, it was the first thing he mentioned when he had the children’s attention Monday evening at the Falcons’ practice field outside the Steckler Multipurpose Building.

“Grades are the most critical thing,” the former Ole Miss and New Orleans Saints running back said.

Email newsletter signup

“Regardless of how successful you are as an athlete, you can get an education. If you’re good enough to get a free education (playing sports), then you have to take advantage.”

McAllister was visiting Natchez Monday — he appeared on behalf of his employer Waste Pro at an Adams County Board of Supervisors meeting that morning — and he said he always likes taking time out of his day to pour into youth whenever the opportunity arises.

“I’d love to be able to see them play a game; it will just depend on scheduling and whatnot,” McAllister said. “I was available, so I thought, ‘Why not?’”

Natchez Falcons director Darryl Smith said he was all too happy to have McAllister visit the players.

“We always talk about doing the right thing at home and in school,” Smith said. “If a pro player comes out and tells them, they might listen a little more.”

Letting young athletes know about the importance of good grades is important, McAllister said, in order to leave a good legacy for future generations.

“These are our future,” McAllister said of the Falcons’ athletes. “If we’re blessed enough to live 15 to 20 years, they’ll be in our position. It’s important that they know the right way to do it. If they’re never taught, how should we expect them to know?”

Smith said having a former college and professional athlete speak to children gives credibility to what’s being said.

“Most kids look up to pro or college players, so they’ll probably listen to him and do the things he did to make it at that level,” Smith said.

And being a role model is something McAllister said he takes seriously, though he doesn’t try to do too much.

“I just try to be myself and do it the right way,” McAllister said. “I had tons of teachers and coaches take time to better me, so the least I could do is give back.”

While McAllister said he’d like to see the next NFL player come from the Falcons’ squad, he said education is the surest bet the athletes have.

“I can’t promise them they’ll make it to the NFL or pro sports, but I can promise them they’ll have an opportunity for an education,” McAllister said.