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‘From the 757 to the NFL’ at Hampton University

Michael Vick, Mike Tomlin among panelists for The Undefeated’s discussion that highlights their journey to the pros

Michael Vick. Mike Tomlin. Aaron Brooks. They’re among many from the Hampton Roads, Virginia, area who have achieved NFL success. Each overcame challenges along the way, applying lessons learned in their youth to reach the highest level of the game. Let’s discuss their journey.

On Thursday, Hampton Roads Youth Foundation, ESPN’s The Undefeated and Hampton University will host a panel, “From the 757 to the NFL,” an in-depth conversation about football, competition, the road to manhood and the pursuit of dreams. Vick and Brooks, two of the best quarterbacks reared in the talent-rich region, and Tomlin, a Super Bowl-winning head coach, are among those scheduled to appear at Hampton’s Scripps Howard Auditorium.

What’s the 757? That’s the area code for much of the Hampton Roads metropolitan area, including Newport News, where Vick and Brooks are from, and Hampton, where Tomlin grew up. But residents of the region will tell you the number represents much more to them. It signifies a collective feeling of pride in community. And Vick, Tomlin and Brooks have never forgotten their roots.

The 757 served as a springboard for Vick, a four-time Pro Bowler, to become one of the most electrifying quarterbacks in NFL history. After serving 18 months in federal prison for his role in a dogfighting operation, Vick put his life back together on and off the field. He has emerged as a vocal animal rights advocate and speaks often with children and teenagers in hopes of helping them to find the right path. In 2010, Vick won the Associated Press Comeback Player of the Year Award.

Tomlin is widely considered one of the NFL’s best head coaches. By guiding the Pittsburgh Steelers to the 2009 Super Bowl championship, Tomlin, then only 36, became the youngest coach in league history to win a Super Bowl. He has two AFC titles and a .644 winning percentage during the regular season.

Brooks had a seven-year NFL career, playing six seasons with the New Orleans Saints and one with the Oakland Raiders. In the 2000 playoffs, Brooks threw four touchdown passes against the then-St. Louis Rams to lead the Saints to their first postseason victory in franchise history. In 2001, Brooks set career highs with 3,832 yards passing and 22 touchdowns.

Jason Reid is the senior NFL writer at The Undefeated. He enjoys watching sports, especially any games involving his son and daughter.