Perseverance is key takeaway from EPC guest speaker
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ — From the time he was five years old, Shaun O’Hara had a dream of playing professional football. Yet the path was not easy.
O’Hara was lightly recruited coming out of Hillsborough High School in Hillsborough, NJ, and ended up being a walk-on at Rutgers University in his home state. He worked hard at Rutgers, and after a successful collegiate career as an offensive lineman that included being named First Team in the Big East Conference, he was looking to take the next step toward his goal of playing in the National Football League.
“Coming out of college, I was told I wasn’t big enough for the NFL,” O’Hara told the scores of EPC members assembled at MetLife Stadium, here, on Sept. 20 for the annual tailgate event sponsored by the Idaho Potato Commission, Zespri and Oppy.
Undeterred, O’Hara continued to work hard and eventually signed as an undrafted free agent with the Cleveland Browns. He spent four years with the team before joining the New York Giants in 2004.
Again, he exceeded expectations and had a wildly successful career with the team, including winning Super Bowl XLII in 2008, when the Giants miraculously defeated the unbeaten New England Patriots 17-14.
In relaying his experience to the EPC members, O’Hara spoke of the importance of setting goals for yourself, something he learned as a young boy from his father.
“I learned that if you believe in yourself and are willing to sacrifice, you can achieve your dreams,” he said. “And it is also important to let people know about your goals so they can hold you accountable.”
O’Hara was also quick to praise those in the produce industry for keeping supermarket shelves stocked with healthy foods, and he said fresh produce was an important part of his diet as an NFL player, and was a key reason he was able to lose and maintain a healthy weight after his career ended.
“I think one of the biggest problems we have in society is the amount of processed foods and refined sugars in our diets, and what you are providing is the healthiest food.”