STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) – Throughout his life, Mike Haddix had to fight through adversity the way he fought through would-be tacklers as a running back for Mississippi State.
“You want to talk about growing up hard? I know about that,” he said. “You want to talk about no parenting in the home? I know about that. You want to talk about tragedy? I lost both my parents when I was 9-years-old.”
After wracking up nearly 3,000 yards from scrimmage for the Bulldogs, the Philadelphia Eagles made him the number 8 pick in the 1983 NFL draft.
“When the Eagles called me and selected me, my little sister jumps up and said ‘We’re rich,'” he recalls.
Haddix says that what got him from Starkville to top-10 NFL draft pick to an eight-year career in professional football, is the same thing that can change anyone’s life.
“I came to work every day,” he stated.
It was a lesson that he learned well during his rookie year with the Eagles when his Running Backs coach Billie Matthews told him what it would take to survive in the NFL.
“They’re gonna try to knock you down, bring you down, prove that you’re not the running back that you say you were,” Haddix said, repeating his coach’s words. “Now you got to fight to uphold that reputation.”
It’s that same mentality he hopes to instill in young people who have lost their way through his Retired Professional Football Players Charitable Foundation.
“If you work just as hard at the good things and the positive things, then you can be just as successful as everybody else. There’s no reason why you can’t,” he said, summing up the foundation’s overall message.
With violent juvenile crime on the rise in Starkville, he wants to make sure teenagers understand that their actions, good or bad, have consequences.
“Wrong always ends up wrong,” he said. “You might be happy for a little while, but in the long run, you’re gonna be just like everybody else: locked up or dead.”
During his final year in the NFL, Haddix went from tailback to fullback with the Green Bay Packers, leading the way for his young teammate Brent Fullwood.
And that’s what he’s still doing off the field for the next generation.
“Here I am. Use me. Take my knowledge,” he said. “I know you call me old head but if I’m an old head, then I know what I’m talking about. I’ve lived it.”
Haddix’s foundation focuses on job training, developing social skills, dealing with anger management and keeping parents involved.
To get in touch with the foundation, call 1-800-792-1982.