Baylor

What has changed at Baylor in a year? Everything and everyone

Baylor
COURTESY OF RACHEL BARIBEAU

I looked out the airplane window at the setting sun as I descended into Dallas. I couldn’t help but wonder what the next day might hold. How would they receive me? What had they been through? Would I make a difference?

I was going to Waco, Texas, to speak to the Baylor football team. I was bringing #ChangingtheNarrative to Baylor, the very place that helped spawn the movement.

I started speaking to college football teams in August 2015. I speak about passion and purpose and platform, and what it means to be a good man. We discuss how we view women and how we treat women. We talk about setting the world on fire with our good deeds.

I have had stops at Florida State, Clemson, Florida International, Minnesota and Ole Miss. Every one of those stops was special.

I have shared some of the most intimate details of my life with these young men, but it’s after I’m finished, when they hug me and tell me what the talk meant to them, that I look my destiny in the face. I know now that my destiny, my legacy, is to advocate for these players, to help them be all that they can be.

To Waco

I pulled my rental car into the football parking lot and made my way to coach Matt Rhule’s office. I had done my research on the current state of Baylor football.

There is no one in administration, on the team or on the coaching staff who had anything to do with the unthinkable acts that went on under the previous regime. That has not stopped the rest of the world from lumping the current student-athletes in with those who were complicit.

These young men have been bullied, their families have been bullied, they’ve been called rapists and molesters and every curse word imaginable on social media and in person. At Baylor, the innocent continue to suffer for the guilty.

Knowing this, it was no surprise to see a room full of faces naturally suspicious when I began my talk.

Would I talk at them? Would I lump them in, too? Would I gloss over what they have experienced in order to speak my larger message?

They could not know at the outset I was not there to do any of that. I was actually there to fight for them, to remind them of all the goodness in them, to tell them of their infinite potential.

As I spoke from my heart, something amazing happened: Walls fell down, gaps were bridged, a bond was formed. When I finished speaking, 40 or so players lined the walls waiting to speak with me.

They whispered their dreams in my ears. They enveloped me in big bear hugs. We laughed together and we shed a few tears.

They told me they felt forgotten, that they had lost hope and almost given up. They told me I reminded them that there are people from the outside who still believe in them.

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