Steelers' Mathews impresses students, adults during visit to Cresco


CRESCO - Dozens of local students and adults visited Legacy Gym in Cresco Saturday to take advantage of the chance to see and talk to NFL player Ricardo Mathews, who is the brother of Kelli Gosch of Cresco. Mathews’ visit was part of a fund-raiser for In Your Face Entertainment.
Mathews is currently a defensive end for the Pittsburgh Steelers of the National Football League. Prior to joining the Steelers in 2016, Mathews played for the San Diego Chargers from 2014-15, and he played for the Indianapolis Colts from 2010-13. 
He also suited up for the University of Cincinnati from 2006-09 after graduating from Terry Parker High School in Jacksonville, Fla.
Mathews gave an inspirational and informative talk not just about his own life and upbringing, but about sports and life in general.
Kelli, Ricardo’s brother, introduced him to the crowd.
“This is my little brother, Ricardo, who happens to play for the Steelers,” Kelli said. “He is super excited to be here.”
Mathews opened the conversation by talking a little about himself.
“I’ve been playing football almost my entire life,” Mathews said. “It has taught me some good things, it has helped me make a lot of good relationships and it has taken me to a lot of places around the world. Playing football has enhanced my life overall.
“I played a lot of sports growing up, such as swimming, basketball, wrestling, track and field as well as football, but I wasn’t always the best (at all these sports). So if you’re always worried about being the best, don’t worry. The best thing to do is to have fun with whatever sport you’re playing,” Ricardo said.
He added that it’s important for students to listen to their parents.
“You might not realize how fortunate I am to be in the position I’m in (playing in the NFL),” Mathews said. “I’m here to tell you it wasn’t easy to get to where I am. I had to walk a straight, super-narrow line my whole life. 
“I’ve had some of the same opportunities others have had, and sometimes fewer opportunities. For people to see me here today shows that it’s definitely possible for anyone (to succeed in life),” Mathews said.
He asked the students what grades they were in, and they told him they were in second through sixth grades.
“You (the students) are in the beginning stage of life, which is a very important stage,” he noted. “Your minds are so eager to learn. You need to tune yourself to the right frequency. If there is a sport that can keep you out of trouble, play that sport. If there are recreational activities available to you, do those activities. Stay active.”
Mathews added nutrition is also very important for students.
“I don’t have a specific diet,” he said, “but I don’t eat a lot of meat, such as steaks, burgers and hot dogs. But you can still be big and strong without eating those things. Every morning, I try to eat two fruits and two vegetables and some juice. I’m just trying to show you the best path to walk.”
He asked how many students in the crowd play sports currently, and several  raised their hands. Some of the sports listed included: basketball, football, baseball, wrestling, soccer and dancing.
“You (the students) listed a lot of sports, which is good,” Mathews said. “You can really help each other out by keeping each other accountable and encouraging one another. You shouldn’t tear each other down or make fun of people. When you treat people bad, people don’t forget that. The best thing you can do is to treat everyone the same, no matter what size, gender or color they are. That will make life easier and people will like you more. Plus, you’ll like yourself better.”
Mathews noted education is very important, and he encouraged all the students to set a goal of going to college.
“Everyone should want to go to college,” Mathews said. “College was an eye-opening, fun experience. I tell people they should want to go to a college that isn’t close to home because that can help you come into your own as a person.
“College was fun for me because I kept up my grades. I didn’t have to worry about much because my good grades took care of things. My family didn’t have to worry about paying for my education because of my football scholarship. If you play sports, keep your grades up because then you can go to any college,” Mathews said. 
He then took several questions. Listed below are some of the questions followed by Mathews’ answer.
Question: How do you get past the linebackers?
Ricardo Mathews: Before I get in my stance, I look at my opponent in front of me to see where he is looking. The second thing I do is focus on what I’m going to do. The only thing my opponent knows is when the ball will be hiked. Once I figure out my move in my head, I just do my thing to get around him.
Question: What is it like to play with other NFL superstars?
RM: It’s just like playing with your friends! When you have a brother or sister, they might get on your nerves sometimes, but you still love them. That’s what it’s like. At the end of the day, you have friends that are fighting for the same cause. It’s pretty fun playing football. 
Question: Do you know people who can catch a football with one hand?
RM: Yeah, Odell Beckham Junior, Antonio Brown and Keenan Allen. It’s an acquired skill to catch a ball with one hand. You need strong hands and great hand-eye coordination.
Question: Have you ever broken any bones?
RM: I’ve never broken any bones, but during this past season, it was the first time I was hurt enough that I missed a game. I had a high ankle sprain. 
Question: Have you ever sacked (New England quarterback) Tom Brady?
RM: No, but I hit him hard a couple times.
Question: How many girlfriends have you had?
RM: That’s a cool question. I’ve had three. One in high school, one in college and one now.
Question: Have you ever sacked a big-name NFL player?
RM: Yes, I’ve sacked both Mannings (Peyton and Eli), Matt Hasselbeck and Colin Kaepernick. Hasselbeck is actually a great person.

Cresco Times

Phone: 563-547-3601
Fax: 563-547-4602

Cresco TPD
214 N. Elm Street
Cresco, IA 52136

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