Inspiring New Readers and Sports Fans
Tim Green’s path has taken him full circle, from the classroom to the football field and back to the classroom again, with each step along the way fueled by a love of reading that began as a child. After he graduated ΦΒΚ, as an All-American athlete with an English degree from Syracuse University, Green became a first-round draft pick for the Atlanta Falcons, achieving acclaim as a star linebacker and defensive end in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
But Green’s professional resume doesn’t start and end with football. His is also a practicing lawyer, a recognized television commentator, a best-selling author, and, now, a spokesperson for the value of reading.
Where It All Started
From a young age, Green has been passionate about two things: football and reading. While at first glance they may seem an unlikely combination, he deliberately incorporated both into every facet of his career. While still with the Falcons, he had a very ambitious off-field agenda. Green saw that he would need solid ground under his post-football career, so he graduated from law school and passed the bar. As if that weren’t enough, he also wrote his first book, a suspense novel for adults. Although later books reached The New York Times best-seller list, as a writer, Green was not an instant success. His first novel took him five years to write and he couldn’t find a publisher. Instead of giving up, he kept writing, getting better at it with each attempt. His path changed again after an interview with National Public Radio; Warner Books decided to publish his original suspense novel.
From there, his writing portfolio expanded to include sports novels for middle-school-age children, an important niche designed to engage a difficult-to-reach audience. Drawing upon his football background and the experiences of his own children, he published Football Genius, his first young adult novel, which became a best-selling title. More sports titles followed, and so did collaboration with baseball great and former New York Yankee Derek Jeter, who was impressed with Green’s sports-based writing. Jeter approached Green to work jointly on a trilogy of baseball novels. The first in the series, Baseball Genius, will be released in March.
From Writing to Advocacy
For Green, influencing young people was not something he could do through the written word alone. His turned his success as an author into a platform for his advocacy, traveling across the United States to visit schools to get kids enthused about reading and education. To date, Green has visited over 1,000 schools and has addressed nearly a half million students about the importance and the joy of reading, which he views as “weightlifting for the brain.” Green gives young people the same advice he gives his own five children: school should always take precedence over sports. Speaking from experience, he tells them, "[A career in] sports ends before you want it to. Your education endures a lifetime."
Green is also taking his message about the importance of reading back to the NFL where he is working to add a “Read 20” message to the NFL’s “Play 60” campaign, designed to encourage kids to be active for 60 minutes a day. He wants to show kids they need to engage in both physical and mental activity every day and to see that reading is fun like their time outdoors.
The Importance of Education
Green credits his education at Syracuse with broadening his horizons and giving him the tools necessary to write professionally. He especially cites the influence of one of his English professors, Dr. Judith Weissman who educated students inside and outside of the classroom, often extending invitations to dinner parties with visiting writers. These engaging experiences exposed Green to a wealth of intellectual interests, furthering his curiosity and inspiring him to begin writing.
Throughout his varied career, Green gives consistent advice to young people, especially recent graduates, as they embark on the beginnings of their professional lives. "It's important to be passionate, but practical,” Green states. “Use your skills to make a living, and always persevere. When one door closes, another will open."