NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Titans linebacker
This is no free ride, in every sense of the phrase. The athletes are responsible for the roughly $110,000 for tuition, travel and lodging, and the program - which include non-athletes - has a dropout rate of about 10 percent.
Classes meet Saturdays and Sundays, although a rare Thursday off gave Witherspoon a chance to talk about his endeavors over lunch. Witherspoon owns a 500-acre cattle farm in Missouri and was educating the table about the benefits of all-natural probiotic fertilizer and what to look for in various types of beef.
Witherspoon, who splits his offseason home between Nashville and the farm, is staying in a hotel, so his schedule for these two weeks isn't as frenetic as other players. Witherspoon was a high-octane student at the University of Georgia, getting an atypical football player's degree in housing and community development with minors in horticulture and landscape architecture.
''I'm programmed to do something all the time,'' the 11-year veteran said.
Witherspoon believes there is a ''silent majority'' of NFL players who do plan responsibility for the future, but they get overshadowed by the attention given to the spectacular failures who waste everything. Even so, the GW program is a step beyond the norm, and it's not for everyone.
''Some people have found it a little overwhelming and are moving on,'' Witherspoon said.
Until it was mentioned to him, Witherspoon didn't realize one irony of the situation: After getting free tuition at a major football school, he's now paying lots to attend one that doesn't even play the sport.
''Well, that's kind of good,'' he said with a chuckle. ''It means you're focused on education.''