Arrington thriving with post-NFL endeavors
LaVar Arrington was back in town Monday, here to help an old pal, talk to some kids and generally carry out his game plan, which has nothing to do with games.
“My life's calling is to have an impact on young people's lives as much as I can, give back as much as I can,” the former North Hills and Penn State football star said Monday.
Calling Pittsburgh “my pride and joy” and lamenting that he doesn't visit enough, Arrington was the featured guest at a youth football camp run by ex-North Hills teammate and Pitt safety Eric Kasperowicz, the new Pine-Richland coach. Still looking buff at 34, Arrington addressed the young campers, signed autographs and chatted up Kasperowicz's high schoolers, who were sweating in the weight room.
Older players — that is, the current NFL generation — also are on Arrington's radar. The league's Transition Assistance Program assists those who face the many challenges of retirement, and Arrington said he is training to become a “certified transitional coach” to facilitate the effort.
“When you're done playing the game, this isn't like basketball,” he said. “You can't get a five-on-five game. It's just one of those sports where, if you've played it and played it at a high level, it becomes difficult to convince your body and your mind that you're not doing it any more.”
A linebacker taken No. 2 overall by Washington in 2000, Arrington achieved moderate success during six NFL seasons with the Redskins and one with the Giants before an Achilles tendon injury hastened his retirement at 29. He has stayed busy since then, doing assorted media work that includes a popular Washington radio talk show.
He also owns a sports management firm that recently branched out into modeling, and started a company called Extreme Procision that combines unique forms of apparel and instruction for “a state-of-the-art football training system that will develop the world's next generation of football players,” according to its website.
Arrington lives with his family in a large, comfortable home in Annapolis, Md. Citing the support of his wife and parents, he acknowledged that his transition from football “was probably smoother than most.” But it still wasn't easy. He said he turned to his motorcycle for that “adrenaline rush I used to get when I played the game.”
Six years ago Tuesday, Arrington crashed his bike near his home, suffering a broken right arm and nerve damage, two broken vertebrae and a huge gash in his right thigh. He was hospitalized for two weeks.
“That was my transition,” he said. “I lived, and I was blessed enough to make it through that situation. I looked at my family, I realized I'll get a great adrenaline rush by being a great dad and giving back to the community the best I can.”
Like many former Penn State players, Arrington was a vehement critic of Joe Paterno's firing, the actions of the school's board of trustees and the subsequent NCAA sanctions that resulted from the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal. He said he “supports the Paterno family 100 percent” in their lawsuit against the NCAA and still resents how things were handled.
“I don't back down on that,” he said. “Anything I've ever said, I stand on to this day.”