To the naked eye, second and seven may not have much meaning. Second and seven might mean you ran the ball on first down. It might mean you threw a quick pass and picked up a couple yards. To Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel, second and seven means much more.
Second and Seven is a non-profit organization based in Columbus, Ohio. Second and Seven was started in 1999 by three former Ohio State University football players; Mike Vrabel, Luke Fickell and Ryan Miller. In case you haven’t heard, Vrabel is currently the head coach of the Tennessee Titans. Luke Fickell is the head football coach of the University of Cincinnati. Ryan Miller is a partner of m2 marketing, which works with clients to design and develop websites and graphic design solutions.
Starting out was difficult, they didn’t have a lot of capital to start off. Ryan and Mike went into Borders books and bought as many books as they could for 30% off. They managed to buy enough books to distribute to seven 2nd grade classes. The name Second and Seven comes from that. Their mission statement is as follows: “The mission of The 2nd & 7 Foundation is to promote reading by providing free books and positive role models to kids in need while encouraging young athletes of the community to pay it forward.” This statement pays homage to the late great Ohio State coach Woody Hayes. Hayes always talked to his players about paying it forward, and that’s precisely what they have been doing.
If you are interested in following the timeline of the creation of Second and Seven until now, you can find that information here.
You may be wondering to yourself “Why second graders?” The reason the focus is placed on second graders is simple. Studies have shown that if children are not reading well by the end of the 2nd grade, trouble is ahead. The foundation typically tries to target schools with economically disadvantaged kids where they can make the most significant impact. Tackling illiteracy isn’t an easy task, having positive role models definitely helps to encourage the students. If you are a student-athlete, high-school or college, and would like to pay it forward, please get involved here.
Any foundation needs successful events to keep it moving forward. Second and Seven have been able to pull off successful events such as 2.7 Day and Big Game Pledge. In 2016, 2.7 day was officially started. 2.7 day refers to February 7th of every year. This was adopted to help creatively engage all of their members to show support for the Second and Seven Foundation.
Another event was the Big Game Pledge. This was based around the Super Bowl and allowed you to pledge an amount for every 2nd & 7 during the game. There were four options ranging from $2.70 – $27, $27 – $270, $270 – $2700, and other. They provide you with a helpful tip of “the number of times a team is faced with 2nd & 7 as a down and distance in the NFL is commonly between 5 and 10.”
It’s important to remember where you came from and always do your best to pay it forward.