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Retired Football Player Tackles Domestic Violence


A few years ago, author Paul McComas and singer-songwriter Maya Kuper created Unplugged: A Survivor’s Story in Scenes and Songs. It’s based on Paul’s novel of the same name. The show uses original songs and spoken-word performance to tell the story of Dayna Clay, a fictional 27-year-old rock musician and survivor of sexual assault. 

On Monday August 1, at Linneman’s River West Inn, a unique group of people will collect to present that show. Joining McComas and Kuper and their Dana Clay Band, will be former Green Bay Packer coach Harry Sydney. 

Sydney had a successful career as both a football player and coach, winning Super Bowl titles with the San Francisco 49ers and the Green Bay Packers. Since his retirement from professional football, Sydney created a non-profit organization, My Brother’s Keeper. It works to enable boys and men to, as he puts it, “get out of their own way.” Sydney says that if boys and men can’t respect themselves and their own boundaries, they aren’t going to respect women’s. 

The former running-back witnessed domestic abuse growing up, and says it was difficult to find people to talk with about his situation at home. He decided to become part of the solution by creating a space where men could receive "straight shooting" advice on life and learn how to have these kinds of conversations. 

"Our society does a great job of building more domestic violence shelters, more after school programs, animal shelters. Great things, but in my mind all those things were the trickle down effect of men not doing their job, and nobody was really teaching the men."

He hopes his organization will help empower men in difficult situations, and let them know they have the ability to change their own lives. "Every client that comes in here, I want him to understand that he has the power to make a choice," Sydney says. "He has the power to pick up an ink pen and decide a lot that has to do with his life... you have to have a destination before you have a course."  

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Bonnie North
Bonnie joined WUWM in March 2006 as the Arts Producer of the locally produced weekday magazine program Lake Effect.