BLYTHEWOOD, SC - Justin Bethel wasn't moving as fast as he usually does. Bethel was at Blythewood High School Friday on crutches with an injured foot which should not keep him out of training camp later this summer.
But Bethel was able to take part in a major presentation as he presented his alma mater's educational foundation with a check for $100,000.
"I felt it would be proper to give back to the place where it started everything," Bethel said.
"Blythewood had a big part in being where I am today."
The three-time Pro Bowler with the Arizona Cardinals just concluded his fourth NFL season which was followed by a $15 million contract extension. Bethel wanted to give back to his Blythewood community and while he would have preferred to have discretely given the money, the school wanted him to take part in the ceremony so it could present the former Presbyterian College star with the "Order of the Bengal." Bethel is the first recipient of this award which honors Blythewood graduates who have gone on to make an impact in their chosen profession.
Bethel was a sixth-round draft pick out of Presbyterian College. But he cautions up-and-coming players that his story, while inspiring, is not typical.
"if plan A-Z is football and something happens, you're going to be kind of left out to dry," Bethel said.
"Make sure you get your education because education is most important."
However, Bethel adds that if someone has the talent, the NFL will find a place for them.
"If you're a good enough player and you work hard enough and put in all the work that you can and don't slack off, the NFL will find you no matter where you are," Bethel said.
"DII, DIII, I know guys from all levels who are doing great things in the league."