Conestoga Valley vs Solanco football

Conestoga Valley's Jose Barbon (24) is the Manheim Touchdown Club's high school player of the year.

Ross Tucker is motivated by three simple rules.

The former NFL player and current football media star shared them in a humorous, anecdote-filled speech at the Manheim Touchdown Club’s annual dinner Thursday at Spooky Nook Sports Complex.

Tucker played at Wyomissing High School and Princeton before a seven-year NFL career with the Washington Redskins, Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots.

He’s the founder and CEO of, hosts a podcast and does broadcasting for SiriusXM radio, NBC and Westwood One.

Rule No. 1: “When in doubt, do it.’’

Before parents of college-bound kids leaped to protest, he added, “I mean, when there’s opportunity, take it.’’

Tucker said he was dubious about his chances at the NFL, and at a media career. He took a shot anyway.

“You know what happens when you decide not to do something? Nothing,’’ he said.

Because he leapt when in doubt, he said, “Tomorrow morning I’ll be hosting (a radio show) in my garage in flip-flops and mesh shorts.’’

Rule 2: “The separation is the preparation.’’

Tucker recounted a game he played for Buffalo against Ray Lewis, the Baltimore Ravens’ hall of fame linebacker and, according to Tucker, “the best player I ever played against.’’

Lewis knew the Bills’ plays better than the Bills did, Tucker said, and he used perfect technique to shrug off Tucker’s attempts to block him again and again.

“What made him great are some things that had nothing to do with physical ability,’’ Tucker said.

Rule 3: “Figure out how to earn respect as quickly as possible.’’

In his first practice with Redskins, Tucker was getting destroyed by former Penn State linebacker LaVar Arrington. As Arrington drove him backward, Tucker got a desperate idea to grab Arrington by the throat.

“I was gonna rip his Adam’s apple out,’’ he said.

After practice, Tucker passed Arrington in the locker room expecting a fight.

“Hey Princeton,’’ Arrington said. “Got to be going for my throat and stuff?’’

Instead of a fight, Tucker got a fist bump.

Lesson: “Being violent is how you get respect in the NFL.’’

Addressing the players for Saturday’s MTC all-star game, Tucker said, “I would pay a lot to play one more time, run around with you guys Saturday night.’’

The banquet’s 20th edition drew about 330, down 40 from last year, when Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy was the speaker.

Temple coach Geoff Collins was the planned speaker, but had to back out because of potential NCAA violations.

The club’s Gene Upshaw Award, given the country’s top Division II college lineman, went to Slippery Rock DE Marcus Martin. A two-time all-American now with the Seattle Seahawks, Martin had a NCAA record 56 sacks, and Division II record 92.5 tackles for loss.

Conestoga Valley’s Jose Barbon, a WR/kick returner who will play at Temple, won the club’s 2017 high school player of the year.

The other finalists were Grayson Sallade of Manheim Township and Garden Spot’s Cameron Roth.

The club’s high school lineman of the year is Cocalico’s Ben Fromm, who is enlisting in the Marine Corps.

The finalists were Manheim Central’s Tyler Dougherty and Connor Williams of Annville-Cleona.

The Division I college player of the year is LB Junior Joseph, of Wilson High School, UConn and currently in organized team activities with the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Division II/III player of the year is DE Casey Kerschner, of Cocalico and Widener University.

The following Manheim Central students received scholarship awards from the club:

Hannah Barbush, a field hockey player who will attend East Stroudsburg; Billie Jo Bollinger, field hockey, track and softball, Lafayette or Lock Haven; Brooke Breinich, basketball and volleyball, Messiah; Lauren Dorwart, student trainer, Penn State-Altoona; Jarod Hauser, football, Stevens Tech; Kacie Herr, soccer, Messiah; Kayla Herr, soccer and track, Messiah; Jake Novak football basketball and baseball, Kutztown; Tyler Simon, football and baseball, Shippensburg;

Gabriel Stewart, volleyball and golf, Penn State; Claire Tracy, student trainer, Pitt.

A new Tradition of Excellence award was given to Jeff Polites, who retired in January after a 28-year football coaching career, including 20 years as the head coach at Elizabethtown and Donegal.