I've been wanting to get to the Rookie Symposium for a while so I could give these guys a view on my message and my life and what I've been through...and try to have it resonate with them so that they don't go down the same path that I went down.
The main message that I want these guys to understand is that DUIs are totally preventable. They are totally avoidable and whenever you make a decision to drive after you've been drinking, that's a decision, not an accident. If you get a DUI, you made the choice to get in your car and drive.
The issue with that is since they are totally preventable, how do we prevent them? You can prevent them by planning ahead. If you are going out to a club, if you are going out to a restaurant and having drinks, if there's a .1 percent chance you will be drinking, plan ahead. It's not worth all of the grief and heartache that can come out of making that bad decision. The NFL offers so many resources so that players can avoid something like this from happening.
The response from the rookies was good. They were alert, paying attention. And that's what I wanted them to do – listen to my story and hear everything that I've done and tried to do since then. I want them to really understand that driving drunk is a decision, not an accident, and there are ways to totally get rid of this problem. I think most of the rookies knew my story briefly, but I wanted to give them the whole story and let them know how something so seemingly innocent as going to a friend's birthday event at night could turn into something so tragic.
It's tough – it will always be tough – reliving this story. It's something I deal with everyday already. Coming in and telling the story again does bring all of those feelings back. But that's a part of my life. It wouldn't be fair to Mr. Reyes and his family, to these young guys, and to anyone who needs to hear my story, for me to crawl into a hole and never be heard from again. I feel like it's a part of my life and it's important for me to give these guys my story and let them understand exactly what happened and the ways you can prevent these things.
I hope to be able to participate in the Symposium every year. I've spoken with Roger (Goodell) about it, and I would like to speak to the teams and even extend our hand out to colleges and high schools. I've spoken at my own high school, and I have friends at different colleges who want to bring me in to speak. I want to go around and share my story so that people understand not only how dangerous drinking and driving is, but that it's totally preventable.