While each has his own favorite memory, both Todd and Tico Duckett agree, their time at State was the best time of their lives.
Each came to Michigan State University as an 18 year old and spent their time growing, going to class and learning about themselves. Friends they made at MSU have become lifelong friends. The community that supported them as student athletes supports them today as businessmen and in turn they give back. And for that, the brothers are considered MSU legends.
Both Todd and Tico played for Michigan State University and moved on to play for various NFL teams. Tico spent four years at State as a running back, between 1989 and 1992. Todd was lead running back for Michigan State from 1999 to 2001. He moved on to the Atlanta Falcons as their running back from 2002 to 2005, then moved to the Redskins in 2006, the Lions in 2007 and Seahawks in 2008 and 2009.
“It’s an honor to be considered among the legends of MSU, and to be recognized in the same breath as some of the people that I used to look up to as a young man is just great,” said Tico. “If you put a lot of work in, that’s what you get out of it.”
The brother themselves are happy but reluctant legends, instead saying that there are so many other people who they count as legends. They list coaches, athletic directors, Bubba Smith, Percy Snow, Lorenzo White and George Perles. “It’s a privilege to be in that family,” says Tico.
But it’s not like the brothers wake up in the morning and think, “Man, I’m a legend.” What they do is what they were taught to do as kids — every day they aim to be good people who do good.
“We didn’t start out looking to become legends. We just worked hard and played hard, and at the end of the day, if people call us MSU legends then we’re not going to say ‘no,’” said Todd.
Tico said for him, accepting the title comes with an obligation.
“I feel that there is a little added responsibility to being an MSU legend, to show athletes that there is a life after football,” said Tico. “So many kids get stuck into being a football player and that defines them. So, when they are done playing football they think that their life is over, but there is so much more life after playing football. You have to take the work ethic you had in football and move it over to life.”
Todd said the added responsibility, however, is second nature for the pair thanks to their upbringing.
“The responsibility to be a good person and a good citizen in this community was how we were born and raised,” said Todd. “It’s more of a responsibility to uphold our family name and what our parents did for us.”
When asked about their fondest memories at State, the brothers each have a unique choice.
For Tico, he remembers scoring the winning touchdown against University of Michigan, who was No. 1 in the country in ‘91.
For Todd, he talks about his first picture day and the first time he put on the actual uniform. He recalls everything down to the shoes he was wearing.
“I had gone to my brother’s picture days in the past, but that day was special because it was my own picture day,” he said. “It felt like the beginning of a story.”
The brothers now work together at their Lansing-based company, Duckett Brothers Distributing.
Duckett Brothers Distributing sells and delivers janitorial supplies to businesses and institutions across the greater Lansing area.
After traveling with the NFL, Tico decided he didn’t like larger cities like New York because nobody knew each other. “It was like starting over,” he said about his time in the larger cities.
Tico came back to the Lansing area in order to be part of the Spartan family that he loves. “Lansing’s a great place to live, raise a family and start a business. So, I came back to start the next part of my life,” he said.
Todd, born and raised in Kalamazoo, loves Michigan and found he was the most comfortable here in his home state too. So, he also came to the Lansing area to work with his brother and figure out life after football.
Along with their successful business, the brothers worked to create New World Food, which is a volunteer organization working to increase individual contributions of time, talent and resources in support of efforts on behalf of others less fortunate.
“We poured a lot of blood, sweat and tears into the football side of the community, but we came back to do it on the business side,” said Tico.
Both brothers do motivational speaking and work with nonprofit organizations. They also support those organizations by selling them janitorial supplies and giving a percentage back at the end of the year.
They also mentor. Tico, for example, recently took a young man into his business to show him a successful African American man, pointing out to him the possibility of what could be.
“It’s not always about going out into the community and waving a flag saying ‘Hey, this is what we are doing,’” Todd said. “This is about Tico living his life and reaching out to a young man who is struggling and showing him his world.”
The brothers’ advice to students and student athletes is to be true to yourself and find your passion in life. To work toward it and do what you love for the rest of your life. To find your truth. To follow your dreams. Go green. Go white!