SALISBURY – Livingstone College President Dr. Jimmy R. Jenkins, Sr., announced Thursday, Jan. 30, that former NFL standout Sean Gilbert will usher in the new decade for the Livingstone College Blue Bears.
Gilbert graduated from Aliquippa High School in Aliquippa, Pa., in 1989 and attended the University of Pittsburgh. He left college in his true junior year to declare for the NFL Football Draft in 1992.
He was drafted as the third pick in the first round to the Los Angeles Rams, and would go on to play 11 years in the NFL for several teams including the Washington Redskins, Carolina Panthers and Oakland Raiders. He retired in 2003.
Gilbert has a passion to help others and is committed to serving his community. He and his mother, Aileen, started Nerih, a non-profit organization that helps build youth and adults through quality educational programs, and assists in developing affordable housing. Nerih partnered with local organizations to build a sports complex to provide recreational programs, and received a federal grant from the Department of Education to start a leadership and development center.
Beyond question, Gilbert knows football, Jenkins said, but it was his work off the field that was most impressive and set him apart from other candidates, such as starting a nonprofit and his commitment to building character in young men.
“I believe he will be a great role model for our student-athletes in particular and our entire student body in general,” Jenkins said. “Needless to say, we expect to win football games as well.”
Gilbert has coached high school football for the past eight years and is passionately teaching young men about life and the game.
“This is an awesome opportunity for me,” Gilbert said. “Football enabled me to escape some of the hard realities of life. It was my vehicle for an upward mobility.”
That’s why after an 11-year professional career, he has spent the past 15 years mentoring young men, helping them to find direction and purpose. He uses football as a tool to help players find out who they really are, he said.
“Your role here is beyond just football. We need strong men here to be role models and you exemplify those kind of qualities,” said Lamonte Massie-Sampson, athletic director. “Welcome to the staff and to the family.”
Jenkins said never in his wildest dreams did he believe that while watching Gilbert play for the NFL, he would one day be working with him at Livingstone College, “so it’s an honor to have him on our campus.”
What better place than Livingstone, the birthplace of black college football, for Gilbert to leverage football as a tool to teach life lessons, said Dr. Anthony Davis, senior vice president of institutional advancement and chief operating officer.
Among his accolades, Gilbert has been inducted into the Beaver County Sports Hall of Fame; the WPIAL Hall of Fame; served as a coaching intern for the New York Jets training camp; and serves as an advisor and consultant to NFL cornerback Darrelle Revis (his nephew), and to Vincent Jackson (2010) and Alex Boone.
He is also author of “The $29 Million ‘Tip:’ How Roger Goodell Earned His Big Pay Day.”
His No. 71 football jersey has been retired at Aliquippa High School; and the City of Aliquippa also presented him with a flag and proclamation.