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Packers Thriving In Player Development Program


If they're lucky, they'll have a long, healthy career playing the game they love.

But the harsh reality is that -- for those not named Brett Favre -- the average professional football career lasts a mere 3 1/2 years.

That's why several players have taken advantage of the Packers' Player Development Program to help them get a head start on life after football.

Headed up by former Packers running back Edgar Bennett, now in his third year as the director of player development, the program provides players the assistance they need in order to finish their college degrees, obtain training in their desired post-football career fields or learn how to manage finances so when their playing days run out, the money does not.

"I'm here to help them in any way that I can to reach their full potential, on and off the field," Bennett said. "If it's in the area of continuing their education, then I'm there for them. If it means getting them the necessary resources for financial education, so that they can be smart with their money, I'm there for them."

Before 1991, when the NFL implemented the Player Development program, players had to rely on teammates and coaches to show them the ropes to being a professional athlete.

"We had to depend on other players in the locker room," Bennett said. "I was blessed that I had the Reggie Whites, the Sterling Sharpes and the Keith Jacksons. I was lucky that I had those guys that had a pretty good understanding of what it truly took to be a pro.

"And that's what it's really about, to help these guys to become a pro, both on and off the field."

Bennett credits GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman and other leaders within the organization for the success that the Player Development program has seen in the last three years.

"They go out of their way to make sure that these guys get every resource available to help develop that player or develop that athlete to become the best that he can be," Bennett said.

Recently, after taking classes at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and the University of Nebraska and through a series of correspondence classes, Ahman Green returned to Nebraska to walk across the stage with his fellow graduates.

Offensive tackle Mark Tauscher completed work on a master's degree in May while rehabbing from a season ending knee injury he suffered in week 2 of the 2002 season.

"These guys are just like anyone else," Bennett said. "I know you see guys on TV and yeah, for the most part they are role models, but they are just like everyone else.

"When it comes to Ahman's education, some people would say that he's a great football player and makes all this money and he has all the accolades of being one of the best backs in the league, however, getting his education meant more to him than all that other stuff.

"When Tauscher got injured, some people would have sulked around and not really seized the moment. Tausch seized the moment."

And the list goes on.

Offensive tackle Kevin Barry and linebacker Torrance Marshall -- both with aspirations of one day coaching football -- took part in the Career Internship program as intern coaches at West Depere High School.

And closing in on three full years as a professional football player, wide receiver Robert Ferguson is "soaking up knowledge about financial peace. He's preparing now like his last play, his last game might come tomorrow," Bennett says.

"From veterans to the young players, we have guys that have great attitudes and character and I could go down the roster and tell you how important this program is to each and every one of our players on this team."

To learn more about the Packers Player Development Program, click here.

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