NFL player reroutes vacation for Hohenfels youth
July 17, 2008
HOHENFELS, Germany - The National Football League's Simon Fraser tackled some pretty interesting questions during an appearance for the Youth Sports Tackle Football Camp held at U.S. Army Garrison Hohenfels.
The defensive lineman for the Atlanta Falcons responded with smiles and jokes as the camp's 7- to 14-year-old boys fired off question after question: "How much money do you make'" "Why did you get traded'" and "Do you know so-and-so'"
Fraser, who was on vacation visiting German relatives, volunteered to drive to Hohenfels from Frankfurt to spend time with camp participants, discussing the importance of sportsmanship and staying out of trouble.
He also encouraged his rapt young audience to make education a priority, using his own life as an example.
"I don't know when I'm going to be done playing football," Fraser said, explaining that his education will see him through the rest of his life once his sports career is over.
In high school, "you have to maintain a certain grade point average to be able to play," he stressed. "No matter how fast you are or how well you can throw the ball, if you don't have the grades, you are no help to your teammates."
Fraser told the boys that as athletes, they have an added responsibility to stay out of trouble, adding, "One of the quickest ways to not be able to play football is to get in trouble."
He also encouraged them to stay away from people who are making bad choices, "because if you get in trouble, you will be letting down not only your family but also your teammates, who won't be able to count on you on the field."
During Frazier's talk on sportsmanship, one camper asked if he had ever fought on the field.
"Yes, I have," he admitted. "I let my head get away from me; I got in a lot of trouble; I learned my lesson."
In fact, getting in trouble on the field is partly what led Fraser to football. The child of a German mother and British father, soccer was his first love.
"When I was playing soccer, I was getting yellow and red cards a lot for being too rough," said the 6'6" Fraser. Then my friends convinced me to play football. I got to hit people - and instead of getting in trouble for it, I was (being) cheered."
Fraser was born in Upper Arlington, Ohio, and played football for the Ohio State University Buckeyes from 2001-2004. Selected three times as an OSU scholar-athlete, he was named an Academic All-Big Ten Conference honoree twice and team co-captain during his senior year.
He signed with the Cleveland Browns in 2005 as an undrafted free agent and played with them until he signed with the Atlanta Falcons in March.
Fraser has participated in many community service events with the Browns and the Falcons. Visiting Hohenfels during his personal vacation time, he said, was the "least he could do."
"As professional athletes, we are given such a forum, a stage to spread messages," said Fraser. "That is our responsibility. For everything that military families are going through, I can definitely give back a little of my time for all they are doing for us."