July 14, 2004
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. — Former San Francisco 49er All-Pro safety Merton Hanks was on hand Monday evening to speak to the Florida State football team about the importance of getting an education, planning for a career after football and becoming a productive member of the community. Hanks is now a senior manager and assistant director of operations with the National Football League. An All-America defensive back at Iowa, Hanks went on to play in the NFL for nine years and was a member of the 1995 San Francisco team that won Super Bowl XXIX.
Hanks touched on several subjects and emphasized the fact that each player was a business in himself. He stressed the importance of creating opportunities after football by maintaining a positive presence in the community. Just like the NFL, Hanks stated that playing football at a big-time program like Florida State is life in a fishbowl.
“We want to make sure these guys know that they are representatives of their university and conduct themselves with utmost respect to the community,” said Hanks. “Obviously we stress the importance of getting an education, culminating in a degree, and to be productive citizens. I think the response has been good. When you can get a group of young men to listen to what you have to say it is always a good thing.”
The four-time Pro Bowler also discussed the role of agents and issues involving the NFL Draft. He said choosing the right agent is something that should be taken very seriously because any action taken by an agent reflects directly on his player. The group was encouraged to use the NFL’s college advisory committee, which evaluates an underclassmen’s position in the draft. Examples were given of juniors who returned to school to improve their draft status after consulting with the advisory committee, one of whom was former FSU safety Derrick Gibson who moved from a middle round pick to a first round pick by staying for his senior season.
One of the main points Hanks wanted each Seminole student-athlete to remember was the average span of an NFL career. He said each of the guys in the room would be at Florida State longer than the average professional career, which is just 3.5 years. Hanks encouraged each player to leave college with nothing less than a bachelor’s degree and hoped many would work toward a master’s during their four or five years at FSU.
“This was a great experience,” said All-American offensive tackle Alex Barron. “It was one of those meetings where everyone was paying attention and I think everyone got a lot out of it. Some people asked some good questions and he had some great answers. We are really fortunate to have someone like Merton Hanks come in and speak to us. It means more to hear it from someone who has been there before. He has experienced some of the things we are going through now and may go through in the future.”