ESPN Network: | | ABCSports | EXPN | FANTASY

Outside the Lines:
Teach Your Children


Here's the transcript from Show 107 of weekly Outside The Lines - Teach Your Children

SUN., APRIL 14, 2002
Host: Bob Ley, ESPN
Reporter: Mark Schwartz, ESPN
Guests: Trace Armstrong, Oakland Raiders; Donovin Darius, Jacksonville Jaguars

BOB LEY, HOST- April 14, 2002. They're stars, millionaires, a life today so different from theirs growing up.

LEROY BUTLER, GEEEN BAY PACKERS- We'd have to boil hot water on the stove, pour it in the tub to take a bath.

LEY- They bestow their lavish lifestyle on their children.

BUTLER'S YOUNG DAUGHTER- We live in a two-story mansion.

BUTLER'S 2nd YOUNG DAUGHTER- Yeah, and we have a pool.

VINNY TESTAVERDE, NEW YORK JETS- It's a lot harder to teach a child in a environment where they have everything and nice things, to appreciate the value of a dollar.

SHANNON SHARPE, DENVER BRONCOS- My daughter's like well, dad, I'll wash the dishes if you give me a hundred bucks. A hundred bucks.

LEY- Fathers who came up the hard way. Kids who have it so much easier.

BUTLER- When your eight-year-old says, pick me up in a Mercedes today, it's -- oh you've lost the battle.

LEY- Today on "Outside the Lines," giving your children what you never had, but getting them to appreciate it. A dilemma for athletes hoping to teach their children.

More than anything else, athletes are separated from their fans these days by money. In recent public opinion polling last week, more than three quarters of fans believe players are overpaid.

Six days from the National Football League draft a new class of moneyed athletes is about to be anointed and paid. Even fourth round selections halfway through the draft, those players received signing bonuses averaging nearly $500,000 last year.

Athletes enjoy a lifestyle they never knew growing up -- an affluence that inside the walls of their home can be a challenge for them as parents.

This morning we'll see how three stars deal with that. Eight-time Pro Bowl tight end, Shannon Sharpe, who Friday, rejoined the Broncos as a tight end.

Jets quarterback, Vinny Testaverde. He's a 15-year veteran of the National Football League. And Packers safety LeRoy Butler, four times selected to the Pro Bowl. Each of them balancing their good fortune with their responsibility to teach their children.

Mark Schwartz takes us inside their world as parents confronting this issue.

BUTLER'S YOUNG DAUGHTER- We live in a two-story mansion.

BUTLER'S 2nd YOUNG DAUGHTER- Yeah, and we have a pool.

BUTLER'S YOUNG DAUGHTER- We have a pool, we have a playground and we have …

BUTLER'S 2nd YOUNG DAUGHTER- … we have a trampoline.

MARK SCHWARTZ, ESPN- LeRoy Butler's daughters are growing up 15 minutes from where their dad was raised, here in his hometown of Jacksonville, Florida. But there were no trampolines in Butler's old neighborhood. There was murder and rape, drugs and despair. And above all, there was fear.

BUTLER- Get off the bus and there's a mad dash to the house so you don't get shot, someone will rob you. Someone will kidnap you. I mean I get home -- well what is wrong with you -- I'm like -- I'm just scared.

SCHWARTZ- Shannon Sharpe did not harvest fear. He picked tobacco in rural Glenville, Georgia. Sharpe says he never realized he was poor as a kid. Yet he vividly remembers his grandmother's bi-weekly pay check; $197 to feed a household of seven.

SHARPE- Because we had so little -- basically nothing, you want to provide a better environment for your kids. But at what point in time does providing a better environment spoil the kid and detaches them from reality of what actually life is all about.

SCHWARTZ- Vinny Testaverde, his wife and three kids live in this breathtaking home on the north shore of Long Island. A short ride, but a monumental leap from this working class section of Queens where Vinny grew up the son of a concrete worker.

TESTAVERDE- I remember wanting a pair of Adidas tennis shoes. I remember asking for them for months and asking for them -- these particular shoes for months and months and -- you know, it seems like nowadays that the kids ask for something and right away we get it for them because we want to make them happy.

But -- you know, because I had to wait so long and also understanding why I had to wait, you learn to appreciate some of the simpler things in life.

BUTLER- Unless I help them develop, it's going to be hard. Because they will probably -- never ever, ever struggle. So they won't know what it means to struggle.

SCHWARTZ- Butler learned all about adversity in an impoverished single-parent home. An urban survivor who's now a suburban dad.

He gathers up two of his daughters at this public elementary school, dashes across town to scoop up two-year-old Danielle at day care. And the flock gets down to business at Butler's charitable foundation, where he runs a tight ship.

BUTLER- My dog …

BUTLER'S DAUGHTER- … my dog fetches …

BUTLER- … fetches sticks.

SCHWARTZ- This is what LeRoy Butler's neighborhood looked like 13 years ago, when he first showed it to me. Today, he barely recognizes the place where he once discovered his best friend murdered on a park bench.

His daughters -- three with his wife and one from a previous relationship -- will never get to see this rehabilitated housing project at its worst.

BUTLER- This is like a suburb compared to -- you know, when I was a kid. I told -- I told both of them we didn't have air conditioning. How can you live without air conditioning?

I said we had no heat either. I mean because it gets 72 in here -- I mean I'd get kind of cranky.

Laura, what's the most money you've had?

LAURA - And I have - $50 is the most I have.

BUTLER- Fifty dollars. Where did you get that from? Did you …

LAURA- … you.

BUTLER- I had a hole in my pocket?

LAURA- No, it wasn't like a $50 dollar bill. It was in a card because I read it.

BUTLER- Oh a card.

SCHWARTZ- In the Butler estate, one of the most vexing issues is finding a DVD that pleases all three kids as they luxuriate in their home theater. Butler remembers a very different type of movie going experience.

BUTLER- I remember my saying, boy as soon as I get me some money, I'm going to go to the movies and buy me a hot dog. I mean when I was able to do that I bought like two of them and I just -- and I kicked back and I was watching a Bruce Lee movie and I felt like this is on top of the world.

SCHWARTZ- Shannon Sharpe, says he never tasted steak till he was in high school. His kids though have no interest in the children's menu.

SHARPE- We go to a restaurant -- a nice restaurant -- my daughter, she don't want no burger. You know what she wants? Surf N' Turf.. 9. My son -- prime rib. Not eight, 10 ounces. He wants 16-ounce prime rib.

SCHWARTZ- Sharpe, who is not married, has three children and says he pays child support to three different women. He sees his kids once a month during the season; every other weekend during the off-season.

Do you think it's because you're not there every single day with them that maybe you're more generous?

SHARPE-Probably somewhat. I know because I'm not there and I tell them that I love them. I show them that I love them. But giving them gifts -- that's always the way to reinforce it.

SCHWARTZ- Sharpe says his most memorable Christmas present was his senior year in high school when his mom brought him his first pair of Air Jordans.

SHARPE- My son has had 10 pair of Air Jordans in the last two years. Is his appreciation for Air Jordans the same as mine? No.

And so I want a big screen TV. No. He can't see Teletubbies on 20 inches? I mean we had two TVs; a big one and a little one on top. The big one had the sound; the little one had the picture.

He wants a big screen. Sixty inches. For what? So he can tell his friends he has a 60-inch TV. So he can play PlayStation and X-Box on the big screen so it looks bigger. That's the only reason he wants it isn't it? To tell his friends that…could care less. Long as they show the picture he should be happy.

SCHWARTZ- Request denied?

SHARPE- Totally denied. And don't ask for the next 10 years.

SCHWARTZ- Testaverde is conscious of how easily he could spoil his kids.

TESTAVERDE- When they ask for things -- and all kids ask for a lot of things -- you don't give them everything they ask for. But you pick and choose the things that you think they can use that will -- that they would appreciate most and that they would have the most fun with.


BUTLER- … you got to write on this yourself.


SCHWARTZ- Gabrielle, do you like that your dad plays football?


SCHWARTZ- How come you like to have dad play football?

GABRIELLE- Because we get more money -- we can do more things. He has so much money that he could buy a two-story mansion, and that I could get a education.

RHODESIA BUTLER, LEROY'S WIFE- They pretty much have him wrapped around his fingers. Being that he did have a rough childhood, it makes it very hard to say no. And he tries to within reason give them what they want.

One and two, and three, and four …

SCHWARTZ- … despite Butler's seven-figure salary, his wife, Rhodesia, has her own business. She says it's vitally important that her children recognize what it means to earn a living.

RHODESIA BUTLER- They will work. I mean just because daddy is who he is doesn't mean they're going to drive the sports cars -- you know, right at 16. They have to work for them and buy their own.

BUTLER- They're probably going to get -- you know, basically what they want, but the route to get it, that's what I want to teach them and I -- you have to start with being responsible.

SCHWARTZ- How good a job are you doing right now at teaching your kids that money doesn't grow on trees?

BUTLER- Probably terrible at times. I mean when your eight-year-old says, pick me up in a Mercedes today it's -- oh you've lost the battle.

BUTLER'S YOUNG DAUGHTER- See, I even got new glasses daddy.

BUTLER- It's hard every day because the more money, the more problems, the more you want, the bigger the spending, the bigger the problem, and the more people are going to beg you. The more -- more people think it's easy, having money -- it's a headache.

SHARPE- We go into a store and they say well, dad, can we get this? I was like I don't have any money. And my son says well, dad, put it on the credit card. When you get it on credit you can pay for it later. He knows all this.

Half-an-hour and two grand in school clothes for my daughter. Another two for my son. I might have had two grand's worth of school clothes in my entire childhood.

SCHWARTZ- The Butler's let their grade-schoolers pay for toys and treats with money they earn by picking up their rooms and watching their younger sister.

Sharpe's kids are nothing if not entrepreneurial.

SHARPE- My daughter's like, well dad, I'll wash the dishes if you give me a hundred bucks. I'm like well, if I get a hundred bucks, I might just start washing dishes every time. Because when I was growing up, you know, I washed the dishes -- you know and my sister used to give me -- you know, 50 pennies or gave me 75 pennies. I was happy.

SCHWARTZ- So you want to take them back there with you to give them just a taste -- you'd love to put them back in that tobacco field with you?

SHARPE- They couldn't make it. Because they've had it too easy thus far.

SCHWARTZ- Testaverde says that rather than tell his kids how fortunate they are, he chose instead to show them.

TESTAVERDE- The way I try and teach my children -- especially my daughter, she's 10 -- you know my wife and I have taken her to shelters to help serve the homeless people, to see how other people live, how fortunate that we are to be in the position that we're in.

So I think by her seeing that with her own eyes and going and putting in her own time to help people opens her eyes much more than I can ever talk about my childhood to her with.

SCHWARTZ- None of these dads wants his kids to experience how difficult life used to be. The challenge now is how to give their children everything these fathers dreamed of without giving them too much.

BUTLER- If it was just for me, I'd probably still be living here because I won't -- it don't take much to satisfy me. You know I just -- I work -- you know, for my family, make sure they have everything. To make sure they don't have to go through some of the things I went through.

LEY- Joining us now to consider how athletes teach their children, Trace Armstrong, of the Oakland Raiders.

He is a 13-year veteran of National Football League; came into the league with the Bears, played six seasons with the Dolphins. He and his wife have three sons. Trace Armstrong joins us this morning from Gainesville, Florida.

Donovin Darius has played four years at safety for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Growing up as a child in Camden, New Jersey, he grew up in a domestic shelter and while he was in college, he was appointed legal guardian to his younger brothers. Donovin and his wife have four sons including a brand new baby boy -- congratulations. And he joins us from Jacksonville.

Gentlemen, good morning.


LEY- Trace?


LEY- Good morning, guys. Let me ask you, any echoes of you're your own life experience Trace in hearing how these players we've spoken to already deal with the unreal existence to their kids.

ARMSTRONG- Well I think you see a lot of common threads. You see a lot of guys in this league come from pretty humble beginnings.

They learn the value of work at an early age. They learn about sacrifice. They get knocked around a little bit and I think it's -- some of those values that they carried from that is the reason that they're successful today as players.

LEY- Successful as players, but in the National Football League you get paid in one-sixteenth increments. Those game checks can be astronomical.

And, Donovin, you grew up as a high -- as a college player -- as the guardian to your brothers -- you guys run food stamps. You go from that to Syracuse's first round pick, you're life changes economically?

DARIUS- Oh yeah, it changes a lot but you know, like those guys said, you never forget where you came from. And that kind of -- that memory always sticks in your mind -- you know to try to stay humble and to -- you know, to try to teach your kid the same thing as you were taught when you were growing up.

LEY- But every parent, Trace, wants to do better for his kids than he had. So you've got to -- you've got to pick and choose and make decisions I guess -- maybe not every day -- about what -- how far to go?

ARMSTRONG- Absolutely. You know, you want your child to espouse your values, and for that to happen, one you've got to be around them. And two, it's got to be something that's there every day.

They've got to see those values -- recognize those values every day. And so you value things like hard work. You value things like commitment to one another and not some other things like material things. So I mean, that's a challenge I think every parent faces regardless of what they do.

LEY- I see you nodding, Donovin.

DARIUS- Yeah. I mean I agree with the same thing. You know, I like to get up with my children and let them see me early in the morning and -- you know, go to work and come back and pick them up and -- you know, and talk to them and have time to share with them -- that way they can understand that.

You know, yes daddy works and the NFL is perceived as this -- you know, as this big entity of money. But you know what, it took a lot of hard work to get where I am today. And the most important thing is not the money, but how hard work -- you know, the amount of hard work and commitment that you put into it.

LEY- The kids are going to want PlayStation as Shannon said. They're going to want the X-Box, they're going to want the big screen TV. And you've got to sit down and say yes or no.

ARMSTRONG- Yeah, I think no is …

LEY- … Go ahead Trace.

ARMSTRONG- … Well I think "no" is one of the best words in a parent's vocabulary. My parents used it all the time. You'd barely get the question out of your mouth and "no" came back.

So "no" is a big part of things in our house. You know, you have opportunities to do lots of things but you -- I think where you try and spoil your child is you spoil them in the -- you know, the types of schools you're able to send them to. You know, doing things that you provide opportunities for them instead of giving them things really to occupy their time.

LEY- Donovin?

DARIUS- Yeah. Yeah I believe the same thing. You know, even with mine, like I said -- I guess, I have an older son who is nine, three daughters, three, one and one month old and -- you know, I have a long way to go with my daughters, but with my son -- you know, it's a lot of time spent -- you know, teaching them about life and teaching them what it's really about and you want to give them the best because -- you know, I know where I came from.

And I don't want them to have to experience the same thing but I want him to be able to understand that -- you know, where I am now is because of where I come from. And I want him to have all the best but I want him to keep -- you know, keep it in perspective.

LEY- So kids have chores, Donovin, I understand your son -- didn't take the trash out the other night -- what did you do?

DARIUS- Oh yeah. You know what -- he has chores. There's chores every night, they put the dishes away and to take the trash out.

And if he didn't take it out -- when I was growing up -- you know, my mother would come in late if we don't wash the dishes -- you know, she'll wake us up -- 1:00, 2:00 in the morning to do the dishes.

So the other night I came home and he didn't put the trash out -- it was 10:00 at night -- bedtime's at 9:00 -- he's out of his bed, putting his flip-flops on, taking the trash out.

LEY- At 10:00 at night?

DARIUS- 10:00 at night. Don't matter what time it is. You got to do your job -- I've got to work. We all have responsibilities and I want to teach them responsibilities at a young age.

LEY- Now you heard LeRoy Butler say that sometimes he feels he does a terrible job teaching the value of a dollar to his kids. Are there times though, Trace, just that -- you know, you question -- should we have done that? You know, was that too much?

ARMSTRONG- Oh absolutely. I think every parent goes through that all the time. For us it's -- you know, birthdays and Christmas. You wonder -- you know, did you do too much. Was Santa Claus too good to us this year?

So you try and balance that all the time and it's a difficult balancing act and so sometimes you may have an occasion where you maybe did more than you should have and then -- so you try and go back later on and reinforce some of those other values like -- you know, Donovin's talking about teaching kids responsibility and -- you know, I know my guys, they thrive on that.

They thrive on their -- having their task list for the week and getting stuff done. They develop a lot of pride -- you know, once they get to the end of the week and they see stars or checks by all the things that they were supposed to do. So you just try and keep it balanced.

LEY- You got -- do you have them on an allowance?

ARMSTRONG- Oh yeah. Yeah they're on an allowance …

LEY- … all right.

ARMSTRONG- … and we just started that so -- and that's been a lot of fun for us.

LEY- OK. We'll step aside for just a second. We've got more in a moment, including preparing kids for the day that dad's paycheck no longer comes from his play in the National Football League.

SHARPE- Obviously, they think I'm going to be doing this for the rest of my life. They don't understand that this is not a regular job. They don't understand that you don't play professional sports for 30 years.

LEY- We continue with Trace Armstrong and with Donovin Darius. The topic, "Teach Your Children." Athletes imparting values to their kids in the wake of having an affluent career.

Donovin, you said earlier you've got to teach your kids that -- you know, dad's going to work but -- you know, you go to work, you've got 50,000 people watching you.

Dad could pop up on the local news or on SportsCenter or on NFL2Night. Does that -- are you able to really convey to kids that, dad's just got a nine-to-five job? That's a tough thing to do.

DARIUS- Yeah it is -- you know, and I -- but I let them know -- I try to involve them in everything I do. Like I might let my daughter -- you know, like rub my feet or -- you know, try to make me feel better.

I might have my son try to massage my back or go with me to workouts. I try to involve them with what I do. That way they feel like -- you know, we're a family but you know, everybody's a part of doing what dad does and supporting -- you know -- you know, supporting the house.

So I try to involve them in as much as I do so that we can all feel a part of it.

LEY- Trace, we heard LeRoy Butler say it was -- I think it was a very frank comment -- he said you know sometimes money is a headache. Thinking about the kids coming at you wanting things.

And I would -- I would imagine other people -- do you -- when people hear that, do you think there might be resentment out there in the middle class -- money's a headache. Hey I'm working hard for my 40 hours a week.

ARMSTRONG- Well sure. I -- and -- you know, that's absolutely you could feel resentment. I think what -- any time you have some type of benefit; with that comes added responsibility and you've just got to be prepared to deal with it.

You know, as things get better and -- for you and for your family it -- with that comes responsibility. And if -- as long as you handle these things responsibly, then it -- then it truly becomes a benefit, not a burden.

LEY- Thirteen years in league, Trace, you might be closer to the end of a player career, certainly than Donovin is at this point, but approaching the end of that career, does that factor into any of the conversations and the way you approach the kids saying -- you know, dad's not going to necessarily be on TV every Sunday. And it also may impact a little bit on lifestyle?

ARMSTRONG- Well I think -- you know, when I first got into the league, one of the things that I tried to adopt was, I treated every paycheck I got as the last one that I was going to get.

So, you know, early on I'd try to live pretty conservatively and what we've tried to do over the years is make sure that we adopt a lifestyle that we'll be able to maintain once I'm done playing football.

And my oldest boy is eight, my middle son is six, my youngest is two and I think, to be honest, they're kind of -- they're getting ready for dad to retire. So I think they're ready for the next phase of life.

LEY- And, Donovin, you've got a few years left and the kids will be watching you play?

DARIUS- Oh yeah, they'll be watching -- you know, but -- you know, they see the amount of work that I put in and I try to explain to them and -- you know, a lot of it -- you know, a lot of the guys talk about -- you know, they want to get their kids as much as they can.

And I try to teach my kids and even myself -- you know, about the reward principle. You know, about earning -- you know, in order to have -- you know, my daughter -- you know, three years old -- she wants to go to Disney stores, she wants to go to the mall.

You know, well she got to earn it. And the way she earns it is maybe by picking up all the toys or -- you know, I call something -- I call super cleanup -- that's when my one-year-old and three-year-old, they go round the house as fast as they can and clean up as much stuff as they can …

LEY- … I'm talking of borrowing that secret from you -- I can tell you as a father …

DARIUS- … they love it - they love …

LEY- … thanks very much, Trace Armstrong, and, Donovin Darius. Thanks a great deal guys. We appreciate it.

ARMSTRONG- You're welcome.

DARIUS- … thanks for asking …

LEY- The highest paid player in baseball made comments last week about the pace of baseball games -- you should see the reaction to that. We'll check our e-mail inbox in just a second.

ALEX RODRIGUEZ, TEXAS RANGERS- That's what's great about the game of baseball, if you don't like how slow it is, then maybe you should go watch basketball or hockey or golf. I know that baseball -- and I've talked to a lot of fans while I'm signing on the road and they just love the fact that it's a three-and-a-half hour game.

LEY- Well last week's look at the pace of major league baseball and the efforts to pick up that pace and play shorter games brought a variety of e-mail opinion to our inbox from Clarinda, Ohio.

The comment made, if the fans want more excitement they should watch basketball or football or something else, just goes to show how out of touch most baseball players are. If he'd notice all the fans had come to games disguised as empty seats, he'd realize that many fans already are watching and attending other sporting events.

And this e-mail of - I pay today's prices for tickets, spend an hour or more each way getting to the stadium, pay for parking, go through the security, pay the exorbitant prices for a hot dog and a drink, the main event better last longer that two hours.

At our key word "OTLWeekly" to watch screaming video or download the transcripts of all our Sunday shows and our e-mail address,

Thanks for being in touch.

Send this story to a friend | Most sent stories

weekly OTL logo

Send feedback to the weekly OTL show

Mission statement of weekly Outside the Lines show

2001: Transcripts, videos of weekly OTL show

2000: Transcripts, videos of weekly OTL show

Copyright ©2002 ESPN Internet Ventures. Terms of Use and
Privacy Policy and Safety Information are applicable to this site. Employment opportunities at