- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 27, 2005

When Washington Redskins quarterback Patrick Ramsey and his wife wanted to buy cell phones shortly after they got married in 2002, they ran into a little problem.

“I didn’t have a good enough credit score,” Ramsey said

The cell phone contracts went in his wife’s name.

Ramsey has, of course, obtained a better credit rating since then. But he hoped his story explained the importance of a good credit rating to the high school business students at Robinson Secondary School in Fairfax County, where he and Visa U.S.A. yesterday helped teach students about the importance of good financial management.

“I don’t care if you have $10, $100 or $1 million, you have to manage it in a way so you can save that money over a period of time,” Ramsey told his 40 students.

Ramsey, who majored in finance at Tulane University in New Orleans, said he learned his early financial lessons the hard way.

“In high school I never really learned anything about money management,” he said.

His college football duties earned him some income but forbade him to take other jobs during the season, so he had to save if he wanted to have money all year.

“Sometimes I did very well; sometimes I did poorly,” Ramsey said.

The Visa program, Practical Money Skills for Life, included a game of “Financial Football,” in which students competed to answer questions related to personal finance. Correct answers moved their teams down the field.

Students said they were familiar with some of the information, such as how the size of a down payment affects the size of a mortgage payment or who is pictured on a $1 bill. Questions on what makes an asset liquid or how the buying power of a dollar is measured proved to be more difficult and took a few tries.

Ramsey and Principal Daniel Meier coached each team but were not allowed to answer the questions.

The students said learning financial lessons from a Redskins quarterback was a bit more interesting than learning from a business teacher.

“It was informative and good to see a football player take time out of his schedule — they’re busy with practices and watching tapes. It’s nice that he took the time during his bye week to be here with us,” said Frank DiLorenzo, a 17-year-old senior at Robinson.

School officials were excited to have a local celebrity on hand to teach an important lesson.

“Our students really look to professional athletes as role models. He’s the type of guy you should have as a role model,” Mr. Meier said.

Mr. Meier warned students that they will have financial decisions to make in a few years.

“A lot of students have culture shock when they go out in the real world for the first time and have to write a check or apply for a credit card,” he said.

Visa’s program is designed to teach the importance of financial planning to prevent high debt or poor credit.

“It makes a lot more sense to have kids who have an education in money management … and help them build behavior to keep them from trouble,” said Rhonda Bentz, a Visa spokeswoman.

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