Ex-NFLers Billy McMullen, Wali Rainer providing mentorship, guidance during pandemic

Sports

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Stars at the University of Virginia and stalwarts in the NFL, Billy McMullen and Wali Rainer haven’t forgotten their roots.

Both are giving back to the game of football and mentoring youth now that their playing careers are over.

That’s especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has already moved high school football season from the fall to the late winter.

“Your vision should change a little bit. Your goals should change a little bit and your daily routine will change, so that will keep you focused,” McMullen, who played at Henrico High before moving on to UVA and a career with the Eagles, Vikings and Seahawks in the NFL. “You won’t feel like, ‘Well, we doing this for nothing.’ 

“Then you find little ways to spark it, do a little bit more film then you’d normally do, get around some other student-athletes that are not playing your position or your sport, see what they are doing, so it’s all about a network, networking with former pro guys, networking with entrepreneurs. You want to glean from something from everybody.”

That mental strength is a must in Rainer’s eyes.

“The physical nature could always be taken away, whether its COVID or whether you played 12 years in the NFL or whether you played in college,” Rainer, who was in the league with the Browns, Jaguars, Lions and Texans from 1999 to 2006, said. “So the mental aspect, the psychological aspect of the game, the big game of life is always most important.”

Surrounding yourself with people who have been there and done that helps that process, McMullen said.

“Mentors are huge. I had one and I do that now for student-athletes or anyone who thinks they need direction in some areas that I had success in my life,” McMullen said. 

McMullen is part of a clinic on Sept. 19 at Henrico High.

“We are basically giving the kids a platform to get some film, get some competition, stay structured and have a lot of instruction from guys that did it before them.”

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