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Penn State University linebacker LaVar Arrington was the second overall player chosen in the National Football League’s 2000 draft.

The newly-renamed Washington Commanders picked the Pittsburgh native, who received every major NCAA Division I defensive award as a member of the 1999 Penn State University Nittany Lions.

Arrington was a three-time, All-Pro selection and a three-time Pro Bowl pick over six seasons with Washington and a seventh and final season with the NFC East Division rival New York Giants.

It’s been 16 years since Arrington last wore an NFL uniform and 22 since he was drafted.

What’s remarkable, even to the 43-year-old Arrington, is that one player remains active from that 2000 draft.

A player who was selected 199th overall, and is nearly two years older than the impending College Football Hall of Fame inductee.

That player is Tom Brady. The seven-time Super Bowl champion and the league’s career passing leader is expected to make more history this fall.

Brady, who turns 45 on Aug. 3, would be the oldest NFL player to ever start a game at quarterback when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers open their 2022 season at Dallas on Sept. 11.

“He’s a once-in-a-lifetime guy,” Arrington said. “I have the honor of saying I played against Tom in college and in the National Football League. I have the honor of saying I was the highest-rated player in the same draft Tom Brady (was picked). That’s not too bad of a door prize.

“He’s the GOAT (greatest of all time). He’s the GOAT of GOATs.”

Arrington was in Erie on Friday to attend the Fraternal Order of Eagles’ state convention at the Ambassador Center. He was there to promote electronic skill games, whose money can be used to assist small businesses, veterans organizations and individuals who are experiencing financial hardship.

Pennsylvania legislators recently introduced a bill that would further regulate such games found in establishments such as the FOE branches.

Arrington was made an honorary member of one during Friday’s activities. He’ll represent Williamsport Post 970, where Eric Hoover is the branch’s president.

“It’s a great honor to have someone like LaVar here,” Hoover said. “We’re all about people helping people. Raising money and donating it to charities. We try to get celebrities here – maybe not always to the level he’s at – but I know he’s going to do a lot for our organization and to motivate people to go out and help.”

Arrington demonstrated why he’s become popular in sports media over the past decade. He spoke candidly with Erie-area reporters for nearly one hour after Friday’s FOE meeting.

Arrington has been a television analyst on the NFL Network for eight years. He’s also a co-host of Up on Game, a Fox Sports Radio show he started in 2020.

Among the topics and issues Arrington discussed.

His new status as an honorary FOE member: It’s exciting to be (with) like-minded people. I’ve done so much to be a positive contributor to the communities I’m part of that to now be in the company of people who have done it at such a high level for such a long time is tremendous. This feels like something I’ve been training for (throughout) my life.”

Coming from a family with deep military ties: Men and women of service is a tremendous passion for me. A lot of times we get caught up in separating them from domestic or civil protectors, or providers like firefighters, first-responders and law enforcement.

To me, they’re all people of service and what they represent. A lot of times we praise the praiseable things that are right there in your face.

But what we don’t pay enough attention to is the support that they need, or the assistance that their families might need. It’s amazing now to have the opportunity and the ability (with the FOE) to be a part of that (help).

How military background helped with discipline as a football player: My father could have easily been a victim to the circumstances of losing his legs while protecting our country. My father was never able to run with me. Not one day. Yet, he still raised us to never be victims. I’ve never lived in victimhood and I never will. I’m willing to put in the work (for the result) that I’m seeking in life.

My work ethic is part of the fabric of who I am. Be it sports or whatever I’m doing in life.

Helping North Hills beat Central Tech 15-7 in a 1993 PIAA Class 4A semifinal at Wexford: I was sick. I was tremendously under the weather.

(Central Tech) was fast and athletic, and it was a tough … game. Man, we had to fight to win that one. I was a freshman and I couldn’t get myself going, but we had (all-state quarterback) Eric Kasperowicz. He always found a way to have an answer for anything.

I was a freshman that season, but I also was a benefactor of being around so many amazing people. Just great coaches and great players.

I think that’s the best team I played for, top to bottom.

Penn State’s football program being tarnished by the 2011 arrest of former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky: It was such a mess when all of that came out because we’d always represented what’s good and right. That shouldn’t have ever changed.

When one person does something they’re not supposed to do (in your family), are you supposed to turn your back on them? Because I can guarantee you someone in your family has done something they shouldn’t have done. That’s what I kind of likened it to.

I think those relationships (among former Penn State players) is what carried us through the darkest and most trying times in the history of our program. We have to continue to be who we are and not hide or be ashamed.

For the one person who was a monster in that whole situation, you have a whole lot of lights.

The Arizona Cardinals drafting Jesse Luketa, a Penn State linebacker who formerly played for Mercyhurst Prep: Jesse is one of those guys who’s beyond being a football player. One of the reasons I think it will work out for him (as a seventh-round draft pick) is because of the things he’s had to endure and overcome just to have a chance (to play football). Those are generally the types of guys who go into a hall of fame.

Jesse’s road was not the road most traveled to get to where he is. But when you have his size (6 feet, 3 inches, 247 pounds) and that desire and humility that he carries every day, I wouldn’t be surprised if he turns out to be one of the better guys in the league.

The Cleveland Browns’ decision to trade for quarterback Deshaun Watson despite multiple sexual misconduct lawsuits currently filed against him: That might go down as the worst decision ever made by a franchise in the history of the sport. Baker Mayfield is the better option of the two (quarterbacks) behind him and, if you think about it, a better option than DeSean Watson.

Deshaun Watson probably isn’t going to be playing (this season). Why bring him there?

That’s a dumpster fire, which will have a very difficult time being put out.

His Dec. 6 induction for the College Football Hall of Fame: That will be my final resting place as a football player. That’s the last football accomplishment I could possibly get, so I can rest assured the things I was able to do and accomplish with my teammates and coaches. At least through one person, our accomplishments will be known throughout the course of history in the hallways (of the hall) in Atlanta.

This article was originally published by GoErie


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