By Mike Max

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It is the game beyond the game; what you can learn from football.

It is an idea where you take technology and marry it with motivation.

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The process is to help high school football players become better adults. They play because they love the game, but what one program hopes is that there is an emphasis.

Matt Birk grew up in Minnesota, played for the Minnesota Vikings and on a Super Bowl Championship team in Baltimore. His new cause is called “The Greater Game.”

“In a few years, these boys that are playing high school football, they’re boys. In a few years they’re going to be men, and they’re going to be the husbands and the fathers and the leaders of our society,” Birk said.

On this day, they bring that model to a Vikings practice, where high school players can tap into NFL players.

“I had a couple quarterbacks out here … I told them competition makes the team better,” said Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. “It’s great whenever you can give advice to those guys, and guys who look up to you and look up to the Vikings.”

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

The push is to push values; that playing high school football is an extension of an education on life.

“Like today, it’s great for them to see the same things that are important to us as a high school football team, the values that we try to instill: discipline, selflessness … character, setting goals, working together as a team, trust,” said Brooks Bollinger, Cretin Durham Hall’s head football coach and former NFL quarterback. “All those things that are important to us are also important to these guys.”

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They do it in part by sending daily messages to high school players through a smartphone app.

“You just got to be a part of a program and pay attention, which is hard to do sometimes these days, so that’s the reason we created this smartphone app, and a short lesson each day that’s only 15 seconds,” said Richard Chapman, co-founder of The Greater Game.

It’s a new way to teach a fundamental piece of the game; that it’s about team, and it’s about culture, and it’s about maturing into adults.

Play football the right way and you develop a quality that lasts a lifetime — character.

“You can’t cheat, you know, team. You can’t cheat guys that are willing to put the team before themselves, and you know, as coaches those are the things we try to instill up in these guys for them to carry around for the rest of their lives,” Bollinger said.

Add the right NFL players as examples and you have something that connects the sport in the right way.

“It’s a way for the coach to begin conversations around important topics with his players,” Birk said.

It is because they want to develop football players that make society a better place.

“It’s key, and as the kids become better people and they become winners in their personal life, it happens naturally on game day,” said Brian Vossen, head football coach at Lakeville High School.

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Click here for more information on The Greater Game.

Mike Max