Football players turned authors speak to young men

Langston Moore, a former member of the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals, began a second career as a writer with his friend and former South Carolina Gamecocks football teammate, Preston Thorne. The authors visited Irving ISD for a two-day literacy tour, speaking at Keyes, Townsell, Hanes, Farine and Johnston Elementary Schools, as well as Bowie Middle School.

“Reading books is like lifting weights for your mind,” Thorne said. “Sometimes it can be strenuous, but that’s the thing that gives you the ability to take on different things in life.”

The authors spoke about their book #JustaChicken to the Boys 2 Men club at Thomas Haley Elementary School on Tuesday, Oct. 18.

The Boys 2 Men program consists of a group of 31 selected 4th and 5th graders. Maurice Walker, the program’s founder, brought the concept to Thomas Haley Elementary. The program is based on the concept of welcoming boys into manhood while teaching them how to be leaders and how to handle responsibilities.

“[Thorne and Moore] spoke to the character in the book just at the end as he realizes his greatness,” Assistant Principal Henry Taylor said. “Those are the things that we want to instill in our young men. “[We want them] to know their greatness and to understand that, regardless of their situation or failures in the past, that they are great, while letting them know that they can go on to do some great things.”

Taylor stressed the importance of having role models like Moore and Thorne speak to the Boys 2 Men Club.

“I think the main thing is that [students] get a chance to see some men that go through a different journey in some cases,” Taylor said. “It sounds like they may have had stories similar to our students, and our boys are able to see that anything is possible.

“I think because [the speakers] are football players, they really thought that it was going to be more or less about football, [then the students] find out that [the speakers] are authors. Our young men are able to see those different journeys and the routes you can take to be successful. I think is just huge.

“Boys will always need those male role models in their lives like the gentlemen who spoke today,” he said.

Moore and Thorne went into depth sharing the story of a chicken by the name of Cocky, who happens to be the USC Gamecocks’ mascot, as he goes on a journey to discover the greatness within himself. The two former Gamecocks shared colorfully illustrated pages from the book while telling their story of their past experiences in life and on the football field while playing under the legendary Lou Holtz, before opening up the floor to questions.

“The students were definitely so articulate and respectful,” Thorn said. “Their overall intelligence was very high. Those things are all good things to keep with them, so they can be successful for the rest of their lives, because sometimes you know those attributes get lost in the sauce a little bit.”

Moore and Thorne took two years to write and release #JustaChicken in the summer of 2015, through Mascot books. The authors plan to follow up with a sequel.

“We have another one that we’re working on right now,” Thorne said. “We’re working on it, waiting on our illustrator to get freed up. We’ll see. We don’t have any release dates or anything, but we’re working on another one.”