The Clinton, Iowa, football team got a surprise at their Friday practice when former Chicago Bears player Adrian Peterson stopped by with a message about hard work.
Peterson spent eight years with the Bears, from 2002 to 2009. Despite that success, he spoke with the high school athletes about getting knocked down and overcoming adversity.
"I grew up in a small town, and figured I would sign on to a Division I school... didn't, signed to Georgia Southern, which is I-AA. Had an outstanding college career, figured I would probably go the first or second round... was a sixth round draft pick," said Peterson. "But it's not necessarily where you're from or where you go, but what you do when you get there."
His message now is simple -- hard work pays off.
As a kid, Peterson struggled with a speech impediment. He says even reading aloud in class was a challenge growing up.
"Growing up, it was hard. I grew up in a time where everybody had to read in class, so sometimes it took me five minutes to read, sometimes 15 minutes, and sometimes I'd raise my hand and ask, 'Can you come back to me?' But I feel like all of us have issues, and I'd just like to spread the message that whatever it is, you can overcome it," said Peterson.
Those words rang true for both players and coaches in Clinton.
"It's the same thing with the players -- don't give us a reason not to play you. Work hard, good things will happen," said Coach Lee Camp.
"I'm a Chicago Bears fan, so it was nice seeing him. Not many people knew him, but I knew him, because I'm a Bears fan, and it was real exciting seeing a former NFL player come by and talk to us a little bit," said senior Thomas Smith.
Peterson also attended the Glow Walk in Clinton Friday night, which raised money for anti-bullying programs and suicide screening for teens.
"That's what I try and do is use what God gave me, which is a tremendous talent, and just come back and give back, because I feel like my success is worthless if I don't help others to succeed," said Peterson.
Peterson's book, Don't Dis My Abilities, has more on his message of overcoming struggles.