HENDERSON, Nev. – The Las Vegas Raiders are continuing to develop creative ways to engage with the community during the pandemic. Another activity took place this week when, on their lone day off, Raiders kicker Daniel Carlson and defensive back Lamarcus Joyner took time to encourage a group of students-athletes from Henderson's Liberty High School during a presentation that was conducted virtually.
"It's awesome to have us counted on as role models as professional athletes pour into relationships in the community to hopefully inspire and share a couple of good words and connect with the teams," Carlson said about being part of an ongoing series being implemented by the Raiders called ELITE chats.
Joyner agreed, adding, "We're all blessed to be in the position we're in. We've had people pour into our lives over the years, so for us to take 30 minutes to an hour or whatever it is to pour into someone else's life, that's a blessing to be in that position."
Joyner and Carlson addressed topics centered around the ELITE acronym (Education, Leadership, Integrity, Teamwork, Equality) and shared with the students and coaches their journeys to reach the highest level of professional football.
"I think the main thing that got me to where I am today was always my mindset that I never lost and I think playing with that chip on my shoulder, just coming from an environment where I wasn't supposed to make it out of, and then always being the smallest guy on the field where I wasn't supposed to be having as much success as I have," said Joyner, who was a 5-Star high school recruit, received a scholarship to Florida State and entered the NFL as second round draft choice by the Rams in 2014. He joined the Raiders as a free agent in 2019. "So I think just that chip on my shoulder and that mentality of no one was going to deny me and always being determined to prove everyone wrong. I think that's what got me to where I am at today."
Carlson told his story of playing soccer in high school before adding football as many of his friends were on the team. "Each one of you guys, whether you're a starter, whether you're Mr. All American or whether you're a backup and trying to keep your grades up for school or whatever it is, each one of you is going to have a separate journey so whatever it is, take advantage of that," said Carlson, who earned a football scholarship to Auburn and entered the NFL as a fifth-round selection by Minnesota in 2018, where he was released and signed with the Raiders that same year.
The Silver and Black is firmly entrenched in promoting the game of football at the youth level and brought that commitment to Las Vegas upon the relocation announcement over three years ago. The Raiders are hosting weekly high school virtual ELITE team chats in 2020 for high school football programs in Northern and Southern Nevada. Through collaborations with the Clark County and Washoe County School Districts, the Raiders identify high school programs to partner with.
Last week, Raiders defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins shared his story of perseverance and hard work to reach the NFL with prep offensive and defensive linemen who are part of the Big Dawg Academy, a Las Vegas-based sports performance training program.
The ELITE chats kicked off in August with Raiders Alumni as the presenters. Alumni who have participated include Lamarr Houston (Rancho High), Jacoby Ford (Canyon Springs), Kevin Gogan (Del Sol High), Khalif Barnes (Spring Valley High), and Miles Burris (Chaparral High).