Snead Tells Eufaula Youth to Set Goals and Follow Their Dreams
By Ed Trainor, Eufaula Tribune
“As you think so you become,” Les Snead told a packed Sanford gym crowd at the Eufaula Boys and Girls Club annual Steak and Burgers dinner.
Snead is one of Eufaula’s favorite sons, an academic All-American tight end on Auburn’s undefeated 1993 team and now at 39, a key executive with the Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League. As Director of Player Personnel for the Falcons, Snead evaluates all available free agents and oversees both the college and pro scouting efforts for all professional leagues. He also plays a day-to-day role in the analysis, evaluation and management of the Falcons current roster and provides salary value analysis of all player acquisitions, while aiding in the research on how to acquire future free agents.
Snead came to Atlanta from Jacksonville, where he worked in the pro scouting department for the Jaguars from 1995-97. During his NFL career he has participated in one Super Bowl appearance (with the Falcons) and three Conference Championship Games.
He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and planned to attend medical school until he was offered a graduate assistant coaching position at his alma mater. While working as a graduate assistant he received a Master’s of Education degree. Les has finished two marathons. He and his wife, Elizabeth, reside with their son, Logan, and daughter, Cannon, in Braselton, Georgia.
Snead urged the Eufaula Boys and Girls Club youngsters to “find something your passionate about” and told the adults, “It’s up to you to teach them how to think and dream.”
Les said he learned those lessons growing up in Eufaula. “We had role models that didn’t know we were watching,” he explained as he recalled his coming of age in the 1980’s. He credits a wide circle of friends and their families, his teachers, coaches, neighbors, pastor and always his mother, Pam Snead for guiding, encouraging and challenging him to think and dream for himself. They helped him develop self confidence and perseverance, taught him values and led him to discover his potential.
His athletic career began in the backyard leagues where Eufaula kids suited up and faced off in neighborhood games. He learned to swim and later golf at the Eufaula Country Club where Robert Johnson taught him to play the game. He said Johnson would have been proud to see him teeing off on the Masters course in Augusta with the Atlanta Falcons owner and coaches.
“I hit it right down the fairway, best drive in the group, and then I looked up and thanked God that Robert Johnson was there to let us play, even if it was just seven holes."
“If you’re lucky enough to have a single mom, like I did. You’re going to have a leg up.” Les told the youth of the club. His mother taught him to appreciate the work ethic and help him understand a simple fact. “Nobody gives you anything in life. You have to earn it.”
He remembered that he wanted to quit the middle school football team after the first day of practice but his mom insisted he continue. “And that’s where I developed a passion for being something bigger than myself.”
That passion has served him well as have the adults who help him develop character and set goals for his life.
A Eufaula Tribune article dated September 2, 1988 foreshadowed Les Snead’s achievements when it announced that he was named to the “Valley’s Best” team by the Columbus Enquirer. His coaches and friends were not surprised then and neither was his mother because each of them saw that Les could rise to the occasion, meet the challenge and then raise bar and try again.
Today Les Snead still pursues that path and this week he came home to encourage others to work hard and follow their dreams. Les repaid his mentors by challenging both youngsters and adults to continue the life building work and activities they pursue at the Eufaula Boys and Girls Club. “Pick your friends wisely and fill your time with constructive play, not destructive play,” he advised.
The audience answered his advice with cheers of support and clear understanding that most great men and women started out as good boys and girls... “Faith is unimportant too.” said Les. “Those with faith will help you find your purpose and give you advice on how to get there.”