BRIGHTON — Their message was brief and to the point.
Work hard. Cherish your time playing football. Be ready for your post-sports career.
That was the message a pair of former Lions gave the Brighton football team during a meeting in the high school cafeteria on Monday night.
Kerlin Blaise, a Lion from 1999-2003, and Eddie Murray (1980-91) each spoke to the Brighton High School program during a break in practice.
Brighton Area Schools board member Bill Trombley set up the appearance.
“I do business with both of these guys,” he said of the ex-Lions. “They’re friends of mine. I thought it would be something good to bring them here and let them talk to the kids.”
Murray talked about his work ethic, about having a full-time job the entire time he was with the Lions, partly out of fear of losing his job as the team’s kicker.
Blaise talked about spending his time as a Lion laying the groundwork for a successful construction business which, among others, had the task of excavating the site of the Detroit Red Wings’ future home, Little Caesars Arena.
But they also had another message.
“Basically, to try and be a rounded person,” Murray said. “Be a good son. Be a good student. Be a good teammate, just a good person. If you can try to do something in all those areas, good things will come to you. … More importantly, be good with your family, be good in the community, and work hard and do the best you can in your education, and things will fall into place.”
Said Blaise: “Not everybody’s going to make it in the pros. Not everyone’s going to make it in college. But as long as you give it your full effort, understand, and have a Plan B. At this level (high school football), you have to enjoy it. You have to enjoy your teammates. The best time I ever had was high school football. They have to enjoy it, enjoy the memories, and understand they have to have a Plan B if things don’t work out. You can’t put it all in one basket.”
They shared some light moments, with Blaise feigning a look of pain when Murray held up the Super Bowl ring he got with the Dallas Cowboys.
“That’s hard,” Blaise said afterward. “That’s tough. At any level, you’re trying to get into the championship. For me, I didn’t get it, but I created a lot of memories. Great memories.”
Murray. who has two teenaged children, told the players the importance of staying out of trouble.
“We talked a little about staying away from the MIPs, stay away from the partying (while involved in sports),” he said. “You’re going to have plenty of time to do all those things. Enjoy your life. Now it’s just trying to gather friends, be a good student and grab a good work ethic as far as college and take those skills and try to get a good education and have a good job.
Both were impressed after an initial look at Brighton’s athletic facilities.
“It was amazing,” Murray said. “I looked up and said, this is all one place?”
Blaise, on seeing the school’s recently opened weight room, was more succinct.
“Wow,” he said, over and over.
Brighton sophomore Ethan Prince was just as impressed with the speakers.
“It was very inspiring,” he said. “They were showing us that they’ve been where we’ve been. IT’s not too short from what we’re doing now, and that everywhere we’ve been, they’ve been. For some of us it’s maybe possible, for other’s it’s not. But it was awesome that they were able to come out and give their time … it makes me want to work harder, to get where they’ve been. It’s been really great.”