'Red Dog Left, Blue 42, Blue 42' - Aspiring Football Players Need to Understand That as Well as 'To Be or Not to Be, That is the Question'

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Football has a unique vocabulary, and understanding it is one of the keys to success on the football field. However, 250 young players taking part in Tampa Bay Buccaneer and Verizon Literacy Champion Ronde Barber's three-day Summer Football Camp are learning that good reading skills form the most important foundation for success in life.

"Football is great, and I have been blessed with a successful career in the NFL," said Barber. "However, only a small percentage of young athletes make it to this point. Most people must be able to persevere against adversity in life, and the best way to overcome those challenges while opening the door to life's opportunities is to have solid reading skills."

Among the camp's participants, who are aged 7-18, are 25 children attending on scholarships through a $15,000 grant from Verizon Reads. These children, aged 7-12, are from Mt. Zion Human Services (an extension of the Mt. Zion Progressive Missionary Baptist Church in St. Petersburg). They will be among the 150 participants in this age group who will attend a one-hour "Football and Reading" literacy session starting at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

The session will be built around a chalkboard game involving teams of participants answering questions that move each team down the field, 20 yards at a time, until a touchdown is scored. It will stress the importance of reading in football, emphasizing that if you can't read, you can't play. More significantly, it will reinforce the theme that reading can take a player well beyond the football field to any success one wishes to achieve in life.

Barber will finish the session by reading from "By My Brother's Side," the children's book he co-wrote with his twin brother, Tiki, also a Verizon Literacy Champion. He will talk about the main message from the book - that family values, hard work and determination are what it takes to be a champion.

"Ronde Barber epitomizes what Verizon looks for in its Literacy Champions," said Alan Ciamporcero, Verizon's Southeast region president. "His selfless commitment to helping us spread the word about literacy will clearly touch these impressionable kids and leave them with a lasting lesson."

Verizon is committed to being America's literacy champion. The company is conducting a national campaign to increase community awareness and to generate additional funding and support of literacy programs for adults, children and families. Working under the banner of Verizon Reads, a private charity, the award-winning philanthropy program reaches out to the nearly 40 million Americans who have low literacy skills. For more information on Verizon Reads, visit www.VerizonReads.net.

Verizon Communications Inc.

With more than $71 billion in annual revenues, Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) is one of the world's leading providers of communications services. Verizon has a diverse work force of 212,000 in four business units: Domestic Telecom provides customers based in 28 states with wireline and other telecommunications services, including broadband. Verizon Wireless owns and operates the nation's most reliable wireless network, serving 45.5 million voice and data customers across the United States. Information Services operates directory publishing businesses and provides electronic commerce services. International includes wireline and wireless operations and investments, primarily in the Americas and Europe. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.