All Sickness Ain’t Death

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All Sickness Ain’t Death

“All sickness Ain’t Death.” This is a quote from a man I greatly admire. The quote represents all that George Taliaferro stands for. It means that even though there are hard times you can get through it. He has struggled with segregation and racism and has overcome all of it. He is also the first African American to be drafted into the NFL. This even happened before Jackie Robinson was the first black baseball player. Whether it was high school, college, the NFL and even the army, George has shown optimism evident in his quote.


George is a hero in all aspects, and not just to me but to everyone who meets him. He has influenced me to always see the best in life. I also learned from him that you can overcome anything that’s in your way. What he has taught me has influenced my values, and in turn I have taught other people in my life. One reason is that he always has a smile on his face. Another is that he talks slowly, not in an annoying way, but because he thinks about what he’s saying and in turn gives every word meaning.


His football career is another aspect about him that I admire. George, lean six-feet tall, played football all his life. From high school to the NFL he was constantly treated badly just because he was black. In high school his team wasn’t allowed to play white teams, so just to play a game they had to drive around two hours away to find another all black team. The school he played for, Gary Roosevelt High School in Gary, Indiana, was too poor to afford jerseys, so they wore hand me downs from Northwestern, whose colors weren’t even the same. George Graduated from high school in 1945.


George also played football in college, where he experienced the same problems. Even though he played football for Indiana University and took classes there, he wasn’t allowed to live on campus, so he had to run to get to every class on time. George was also not permitted in most of the restaurants. Even though racism was substantial at that time, he was so optimistic through all of it that his white teammates learned to respect him. They even stuck up for him and trashed a restaurant when the owner wouldn’t let him eat there. George’scoach’s name was Bo McMillan, and he was a very respected man who always stuck up for George and the other black players on the team. George was the start of new concept, black athletes.


He continued his career as a black athlete in the army. This was another example of his courage and determination. He was also in the army during World War II, and played for the army football team. That is another reason he’s my hero. George served his country even though most of the time his country treated him poorly. George always knows what’s right and stands up for what he believes in. George encountered segregation and racism even from his fellow troops, but always kept a cool head.


His football career continued to the highest level, the NFL. George was the first black man to be drafted to play football in the NFL. He was drafted in 1949. He was a running back, quarterback, receiver, punter, kicker, and cornerback, something that one would never see today. This showed that he could always overcome challenges and adversity. He broke many rushing records and still holds some to this day. His yearly salary was around twelve thousand a year. George played for the Baltimore Colts who are now the Indianapolis Colts and also played for the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Yanks.


George, now with balding grey hair, reminds me of Bill Cosby. He was once a college professor at IU. He taught all of his students including my mom the lessons he taught me. He taught a social work class which was very fitting for him, because he always wanted to help others. My mom and her roommates liked him so much that they wanted to take him out to dinner to thank him for the impact he made on them.


Now, he is eighty years old, golf’s every day, and is on the board of directors of COTA, the Children’s Organ Transplant Organization. This shows that he always wants to help people in need. This charity helps raise money for children who need organ transplants. George also has a great sense of humor. He also has a witty comeback for whatever you say. Whenever I’m with him I am laughing eighty percent of the time. An example of this is when he called one of his old football friends that he hadn’t talked to him in a long time. His friend answered the phone and George said, “Hi its George if you remember me.” His friend responded, “Well I’ll be damned.” George said, “Don’t be damned, be somethin’ important.” That was also one of his many lessons. He is always traveling to help with charity or to golf. He teaches everyone he knew to be all that they can be. He has a great impact on everyone he knows. “All sickness ain’t death.


George’s philosophy that “All sickness ain’t death” is what I use every day to help me get through the hard times in life. That one quote also opened up my eyes to the world outside. Because of him I notice how some people now have no idea how good they have it and whine about everything. George had an extremely hard life, and he still enjoys it and holds no grudges against anyone. He has taught me so much about enjoying life and taking nothing for granted.




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