You never know how truly good you are at something until you HAVE to be good at it. For 15 seasons in the NFL, Troy Vincent was asked to be good at his job. As a five-time Pro Bowl selection and three time All-Pro defensive back, Vincent was expected to record interceptions, break up passes, and defend receivers. Now, several seasons after he’s played his last down of football, Vincent is able to focus more on what is important; stopping domestic abuse.
“His most significant and meaningful work is the work he’s doing now,” says Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., the president at Niagara University. “Helping people to find their voice, share their story to overcome trauma they have experienced in domestic and home violence.”
But it all starts with Vincent. His second time on Niagara’s campus included a motivational speech in Clet’s new extension to their dining hall in which he spoke about the specific steps that could be taken in order to prevent this type of abuse. Before the speech, he sat down for an interview and was able to speak more about what his mission was coming to campuses and speaking about the prevention of domestic assault.
Early in his life, Vincent saw things that a child should never see. He witnessed domestic violence in his household growing up which spurred him to become an activist almost immediately. Vincent says that in his 23rd-24th year promoting this issue, his message remains the same.
“I witnessed domestic violence as a youngster, and it was something that I didn’t want to be a part of,” said Vincent. “Once I got into my late teens, I felt strong enough with the courage to just say ‘I don’t want that to happen to me’ or ‘I don’t want to be what I just saw.'”
“I never want to see a woman go through that experience.”
Vincent also went on to say that in his hometown of Trenton, NJ, there were limited “safe-houses” but several organizations were determined to help those struggling with domestic abuse. Among these Vincent says, were the Salvation Army, the YMCA and others.
“I would go in and meet with families as a teenager. I did the same thing on campus in Madison when I went to school in Wisconsin.”
His personal story is one thing, but in terms of the platform he’s been given with his position in the NFL, he’s able to project the message against domestic abuse more now than he’s ever been able to. When talking about the NFL’s role in this, Vincent says it goes beyond football.
“(The NFL) is one seat at the table. It’s not a sport issue, it’s not a NFL issue, the war on violence against women has been going on for centuries,” says Vincent. “We realize there’s platform, and we hope to play a role in the progress in this particular area.”
When talking about the timeline of domestic violence awareness, Vincent remarked that there has been more done in the past three years than all other years combined.
“We have not seen the level of intervention across the country than what we’ve seen in the last 36 months in the area of domestic violence and sexual assault,” says Vincent.
“Once you find that passion, go for it. Why not you?”
When talking about his goals of coming to campuses and speaking to students about these issues, Vincent recognizes the faults of past generations and sees opportunities to move forward with the prevention of abuse against women.
“My generation has failed, it’s up to us to reach out to the millennials and teach,” says Vincent. “My goal is to identify the next generation of advocates, teach them, assist them and put them out in the field.”
Vincent also had much praise and optimism in terms of the power of the student, emphasizing the strength in numbers on college campuses. He encourages people to step up for what they believe and find their passion in life.
“Once you find your voice, once you I find that passion and you put the connector to it, it’s a beautiful thing.”