By Teryl Warren

It doesn’t take much effort to see that Eddie George is a star – one look at the NFL record books will accomplish that. But it does take a conversation with him to understand just how much of a hero he is. Polished, humble, a man of sincere faith and obvious conviction, Eddie George is, quite simply, a cut above the rest.

Robert “Daddy” Nickell and the smart folks at Daddy & Co could obviously see that, too, which is exactly why they named Eddie George their “2014 Daddy of the Year.”

Nickell, CEO of Daddy & Co and host of the groundbreaking web series, “My Life As a Dad,” bestowed the honor of 2014 Daddy of The Year on George for being a true family man and being so proactive in raising his two sons.

“When I got the call, it was overwhelming,” Eddie told us. “[Being a dad has] never been about being recognized – it’s about making sure my family is in the best position, possible, on all levels – financially, spiritually and emotionally. Robert Nickell and the team at Daddy and Co focus on celebrating different philosophies on fatherhood and bringing them to the forefront. Being recognized by them was, certainly, phenomenal for me.”

And this is coming from a man whose life has been filled with phenomenal moments. Eddie’s stellar collegiate career at Ohio State University culminated with him winning the sport’s top individual achievement honor, the Heisman Trophy, in 1996.  His punishing north-and-south running style won him the 1997 AP’s “Offensive Rookie of the Year” honors as well as four consecutive trips to the Pro Bowl from 1998-2001. Drafted in the first round by the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans, he owns virtually every franchise rushing record. Eddie also led the AFC Champion Titans to Super Bowl XXXIV in 2000.

Over the past decade, Eddie has received his MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Chicago and he has quietly built businesses aimed at helping improve the quality of life for all Americans.

And while he boasts an extremely impressive professional resume, his most cherished job is that of husband and father. Eddie is married to Tamara “Taj” Johnson-George, a Grammy®-nominated singer with the soul group SWV (“Sisters With Voices”), which sold more than six million records. Taj and Eddie are the loving parents of two sons, Eriq and Jaire.

Taj Johnson-George and Eddie George

“As a dad, every day brings a new adventure and my goal is to always lead by example. When my sons see me respond to adversity or hardship, it’s important that I remain calm and positive, so that when they face adversity, they have me as a role model and can say, ‘This is what my dad says and this is what he does.’ I try to be accountable – even when nobody is looking – and I try to be 110 per cent present so that my sons know they have my full attention and that they’re getting the best of me.”

Just as Eddie’s sons look to him for leadership and guidance, he is quick to give credit to the many men who, along the way, helped mold him into the man he is today.

“My father was a huge influence on me in the early part of my life. He’s the one who introduced me to the game of football and encouraged me to pursue my dreams,” he shared. “My high school coach was a huge teacher in my life and he brought out the competitiveness in me. My Running Back Coach at the Tennessee Titans – Sherman Smith – was instrumental in my life and helped me develop my spiritual muscle. He taught me lessons that are relevant to my life to this day.”

Every world class athlete has a collection of highlight reels or tapes that preserve his or her most remarkable moments for posterity. Through frame after frame, we marvel at each incredible feat and feel the thunderous roar of the crowd who was fortunate enough to see it unfold in real time. But oftentimes, as Eddie told us, it’s during those quiet moments that life’s toughest challenges come, and it’s those moments that we learn what we’re really made of.

“My Uncle Kevin put me on to positive thinking and positive action during a time when I was dealing with a bit of doubt in myself from high school to college,” he said. “He sent me inspirational tapes by Napoleon Hill, poems and small cassette tapes with songs by MC Hammer with the lyrics changed to speak to whatever I was going through at that time. He’d paint a picture so I could see myself being successful over this music and I would listen to those tapes over and over again. It truly takes a village to raise a child, and throughout my life I was blessed with teachers who helped push me forward to become the person I wanted to be.”

Having now taken on the ultimate leadership role as a father, Eddie says he draws on both the broader life lessons and lessons he learned from football to help guide his boys through their own journeys toward success.

“The key to being successful at anything – whether in sports or in life – is to be selfless and to play for something greater than yourself,” he told us. “I’ve been on successful football teams throughout my career – in high school, in college and in the NFL – and we were always successful when we focused on a common goal.  When you look beyond your own selfish needs and play for something greater, all the other things you want will come.”

In the game of life and parenthood, there are many challenges and, even using the most solid game plan doesn’t guarantee a victory – which is exactly why Eddie George finds reward as a Dad at each stop along the way.

“I love the sound of my sons’ laugh. There’s nothing greater than hearing my children laugh and spending time with them,” he shared. “To see the smiles on their faces when they accomplish something makes us feel like we all accomplished something together as a family.”

In sports, the word “legacy” is often used to summarize a star athlete’s career achievements. Eddie’s football accomplishments have been recorded for the ages. And, as a father, Eddie would like the record to show –

“I did my best to lead my sons to their own destiny. I supported them in every aspect. I didn’t have all the answers, but what I didn’t know, I sought out the answers to. My sons are my legacy and me pouring into them means more than anything else in the world to me. They’re already successful in my eyes.”


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