NAPLES — All-Pro linebacker Jon Beason received a call on Thursday from Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera to be at the team’s training facility Monday after U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson lifted the NFL lockout last week.
Late Friday, however, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals allowed the league to re-impose the lockout, forcing Beason and many NFL players to cancel travel plans.
Not having to head to Charlotte, Beason came to Naples on Saturday and had a lot of things to talk about — his Carolina Panthers’ drafting of Auburn quarterback Cam Newton No. 1, the NFL lockout and the possibility of missing games and paychecks.
But top priority for Beason was to discuss with local high school athletes about the perils and temptation on performance enhancing drugs and the keys to success in sports and life.
Beason, whose mother, Terry, is a Naples resident, University of Miami strength training coach Andrew Swasey, and Naples internist Dr. Robert Korolevich joined world champion natural body builder Michael Ferencsik to form a panel at the Community School field house on Saturday to address local athletes.
It was Ferencsik and his organization, Muscle Agaisnt Drugs (MAD) that organized the event.
Ferencsik spoke first, informing the audience that nearly one million kids nationwide are taking PEDs and that the fastest-growing group that are using are middle school-aged girls.
He and Korolevich discussed the legal and health aspects involved with taking PEDs and the benefits of proper nutrition.
When it was Beason’s turn, the Panthers’ team captain stayed mostly away from the details of PED use and focused on what athletes can do naturally and legally to succeed on and off the playing field.
“Something like this today, for me isn’t so much about drugs, but to be encouraging and to help kids be successful,” said Beason, who was a first-round draft pick by Carolina in 2007 out of Miami. “When I was growing up, I didn’t have professional athletes come to the school and talk about the keys to success.
“When it comes to young athletes, I can almost go to them as a friend. When I was young, I looked at someone like Jerry Rice and asked what does he do.”
When it came to the question and answer period, a CSN football player asked Beason about his team’s drafting of Newton, last season’s Heisman Trophy winner.
“(Newton’s) a great addition to our football team,” said Beason, who grew up in Miramar. “The guy’s a tremendous talent. A lot of upside. If we put into our offense what he does well, it would help any offense.”
The pick of Newton was controversial on numerous fronts, one being that the Panthers drafted former Notre Dame standout quarterback Jimmy Claussen in the second round last year.
“I’m a big fan of competition,” Beason said. “If I’m Jimmy Claussen, I’m saying, ‘Fine, bring him in. I’ll coach him up. I’ll be there early and stay late to make sure I’ll keep my job.’”
As for the current lockout, Beason isn’t so concerned — at this point.
“As an NFL player (the lockout) doesn’t necessarily affect us now because we don’t compete until we play and that’s in September,” Beason said. “The things I would be doing anyway today are stuff like speaking at a school, and when Monday rolls around, I would be training in South Florida.
“I don’t think we’ll miss games. There’s just too much money on the table, but you never know with these owners. If I told anyone that worked a job, ‘Hey, give me 18 percent of your salary back,’ no one would continue to work that job.
“Eighteen percent is a crazy amount — and they want us to work longer.”Click here to order Jon Beason’s proCane Rookie Card.