Haunted By Their Own Past, This Married Couple Tackles School Bullying


Eric Decker still remembers standing in the school cafeteria when the "Code Red" sounded over the intercom.

The 28-year-old New York Jets wide receiver was a junior at Rocori High School in Cold Spring, Minnesota when another student brought a gun to school and killed two of his classmates in 2003.

"It's all still very vivid to me," Decker told The Associated Press. "Every year, especially on the date, it always kind of brings me back. It's crazy."

Decker recalls hiding in a closet for 45 minutes with ten other students, some of them crying. He especially remembers the moment when his close friend, Jesse, spotted a body on the ground in the gymnasium.

"He screamed, 'That's my brother! That's my brother!'" Decker said to the Associated Press. "That's the only and last thing I heard or saw. I still get a little scared in certain situations. For about two years after that, I was just on edge always, just with people around me and in certain settings. It was definitely tough."

During the trial, bullying and teasing became clear motives for the shooter’s actions.

Bullying is a very personal issue for Decker's wife, country music star Jessie James Decker.

She was constantly teased as a teenager. Girls in school would chase her with scissors to cut her long hair. One student poured a bucket of slop over her head. Another student created a "I Hate Jessie James Club" website.

"I would hide underneath my hoodies just to get to classes," Decker said to the Associated Press. "And then when class was over, I'd just run so I could escape anyone trying to find me in the parking lot. It was so horrible."

The Deckers are taking a stand to end bullying.

Along with the New York Jets' new anti-bully program, the Deckers are partnering with STOMP Out Bullying. They hope to raise awareness about the destructive realities of bullying and to provide resources to eradicate school bullying.

The New York Jets are providing 1,000 free anti-bullying toolkits to local schools.

According to their website, "the toolkit enables educators to create meaningful dialogue, educate students through proven Social Emotional Learning methods, to change school climate."

The Deckers spoke about their bullying stories yesterday at Albert Leonard Middle School in New Rochelle, New York. This school was honored for their efforts to prevent bullying.

"I think the message needs to be put across that it feels a lot better to be nice to people than it does to be mean," Jessie Decker said to the Associated Press. "Hurting people maybe lasts a few seconds for you, but to do something really great for somebody, that lasts forever."

(H/T: MPR News)