All-American Perry Tuttle brings message to CSUNovember 5, 2003
By CSU Sports Information
|Former Clemson All-American Perry Tuttle with CSU athletic director Hank Small|
CHARLESTON, SC – Perry Tuttle has been on top of the world. He also has seen rock bottom. And, in his journey from the top to the bottom, and up again, the former Clemson Tiger football player has learned many valuable lessons.
Among those lessons learned is the one that he considers most important in life.
“Champions dream, losers limp,” said Tuttle. “No matter what you face in life, continue to dream big. Continue to work towards your goals. And above all, put the Lord Jesus Christ in control of your dreams.”
Perry Tuttle has lived his dream. He realized his dream of playing college football, earning All-American honors as a wide receiver and catching a touchdown pass in Clemson’s 1981 Orange Bowl victory over Nebraska, the win that clinched the National Championship for the Tigers. In fact, his celebration of the touchdown reception in that game served as the cover photo of Sports Illustrated. He is a member of the Clemson Hall of Fame, and left the school as the career leader in receptions and reception yards. In 1999, a panel of historians ranked Tuttle as the 14th best player in Clemson football history.
After college, Tuttle realized his dreams of becoming a professional football player, drafted in the first round by the Buffalo Bills as the 19th pick overall. He played 10 years professionally with several NFL teams and in the Canadian Football League, where in 1990, he won another championship ring as a member of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. In 1997, Tuttle was inducted into the Winnipeg Hall of Fame.
Perry Tuttle had it all. Money, fame, family. Then he lost it all. Every penny of a 1.6 million-dollar contract that he had signed six years into his pro career. Suddenly, in what seemed like a blink of the eye, Tuttle found himself $300,000 in debt.
“Since I was in fourth-grade, I stood on football,” says Tuttle. “Through college, it was football. Into the pro’s, it was football that I stood on. I won a ring. I was on the cover of SI. You know what I found out? I found out that football could not hold me. That championship ring could not hold me. Being famous and a professional athlete could not hold me. When all was said and done Jesus Christ and my relationship with my Lord and Savior was the only thing that could hold me. If you’re not standing on the rock, it will not hold you.”
Despite urging to file bankruptcy, Tuttle made a commitment to pay off his debts. Seven hard years later, the debts were paid in full and Tuttle was rebuilding his life. Now active in sports marketing and with his sports ministry, “Play to Win,” Tuttle spends most of his time speaking to athletes and corporate groups about living dreams.
Tuttle recently spent two days on the campus of Charleston Southern University. He spoke to several groups on campus, including CSU’s football team, the University’s FCA group, the entire student body at convocation, and to CSU’s athletic coaching staff. And while his conversations at every event were meaningful, his address to the football team may have carried the most impact.
CSU’s football team is mired in a tough season, winning just one of their first nine games. Tuttle spent only 20 minutes with the team on November 4, after practice, but left the players and coaches with plenty to think about.
“You’re going through a tough season and people are talking. People are saying you’re not any good,” said Tuttle. “Those things on the outside don’t matter. What matters is the way you feel about each other. What matters now is that you finish strong.
“Whatever it takes, finish strong. Finish strong as men. Finish strong as a husband, as a father, as a human being. Finish strong as a champion. As important as football is to you right now, it’s not all about football. Trust me when I say this, football does not last forever. Be remembered as someone who finished strong, not as someone who quit. Don’t give up on your coaches. Don’t give up on your teammates. Most of all, don’t give up on yourself. Finish strong.”