UK Football: Former Wildcats Artose Pinner goes from NFL running back to children's author
Former Kentucky player Artose Pinner poses for a photo Tuesday with Dale Chaffin of Corbin, left, and Blake Chaffin, who was a camper at the Dennis and Derrick Johnson Football Camp this week. Pinner, a former NFL running back, is writing his first children¿s book, which should be out in late August or early September. (Hal Morris / July 5, 2012)
He had to wait until his senior season to get his shot at playing running back at UK, and had to overcome constant coaching changes and position battles during his six-year NFL career.
So Pinner has taken lessons from his life and applied them to his first children’s book, “Willville,” which should be out in late August or early September.
“Anybody who knows me for about the last six years, it’s always been this project that I never gave it my all, but I worked on it,”¿Pinner, who spoke to kids this week at the Dennis and Derrick Johnson Football Camp in Lexington. “And now it’s finally coming together.
“It was weird, because I was flying from Detroit to L.A. one day and it hit me all at once, wanting to create this children’s book. And I always loved working with kids, so I figured this was a great way I could inspire young kids.”
The book is the first in what will be a series geared towards helping kids overcome adversity while still chasing their dreams, he said.
“The whole thing is about kids and setting goals. But when they face adversity, there’s a character named Will Power who pops up and he encourages them to chase their goals and dreams.”
And to also learn about adversity before it happens.
“Sometimes we sell these kids a Walt Disney fairy tale that you can be whatever you want to be, which you can,” he said. “But at the same time, we don’t address adversity until adversity comes.”
Pinner, who played for Detroit, Minnesota and Atlanta in the NFL, drew on his own adversity from when he was a child for inspiration.
He was in a gifted and talented art class when he was in elementary school, but faced constant criticism from his teacher.
“After week three the teacher was ripping me apart. And I didn’t go tell my mom, I just quit drawing. You never know what’s going to take you from doing something you love,” he said.
“My heart was broken. Ideally, I could have been like well I’m going to tell my mom and she could have built me up and I could have gone back to drawing, but it just stuck with me and I never drew again.”
He doesn’t want the same thing to happen to other kids and is hoping this book can help.
Pinner is releasing the book independently, and said it will be available on amazon.com and in book stores as well. He has already written three stories.
“I’ve worked with some great people who are helping me carry it along. I know so many people who have printed books that have big book deals, but no one in the children’s book realm,” he said. “I got great advice from them and great direction from them so I’m excited to see it come to life.”
Working on the book and other projects has helped make for a smooth transition out of the NFL, Pinner said, which is not the case with a lot of former pros.
Pinner currently works with the NFL¿Play 60 program, which encourages children to stay active and eat healthy to help battle childhood obesity.
“So I travel all over the southeast part of the United States to speak to kids about health and fitness and keeping active,” he said. “Just working with kids, that’s my passion.
“The NFL¿Play 60 was a blessing in disguise because it allowed me to get into so many high schools and middle schools and elementary schools and speak to kids, which opened the door.”
It has also been a great way for Pinner to get the word out about his book, as well.
“I’ve been invited back to do book fairs and speak to different schools,” he said. “I did so much work it was a smooth transition for me to speak on something that I hold dear to me, which is overcoming all kinds of adversity to reach your goals.
“Even playing at the University of Kentucky, it wasn’t easy for me personally, I really didn’t get an opportunity until me senior year, and I took advantage of it. And that’s what I try to tell these kids, everything won’t be easy initially. But as long as you keep believing in yourself and pushing and just being ready, you never know when your number is going to be called.”
But now that his number is no longer called, does he miss pro football?
“No, that’s the crazy thing. Not after year two,” said Pinner, who said he had new coaches every season and after while fighting for a spot on the team each year became “disheartening.”
“And mentally I just wasn’t there. So it was not hard transition out of game. That first year, you go through that stage, you’re programed. You’ve always got something to do, so you miss that aspect of it. I think what I miss the most is the locker room just being with the guys.
“I don’t miss training camp at all, that was the worst. And I completely understand some guys eat, sleep football. But me, I’ve always felt I could do so much more. I mean, it was a great opportunity, it was a great ride it was a blessing and now I’m ready to start my next project.
“And that’s the thing with a lot of these guys, they don’t have a next plan.”