This week's conversation centered upon the recent negative stories about the NFL and NFL players. It came up as we were discussing how the NFL seems to be in the news for all the wrong reasons of late. Players running afoul of the law, a league and commissioner who don't seem to know how to respond appropriately, etc. etc. Something to keep in mind, these negative stories represent a definite minority of the players and personnel in the league. They also present a somewhat skewed view of players in the league.
What typically goes "unsung" are the many stories of players who have "done good" with their time and efforts. Let's start with the story of a young defensive tackle for the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Story of Devon Still
Still was drafted in the 2012 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. He was a 2nd round pick, being taken with the 53rd overall pick. He appeared in 18 games for the Bengals during the 2012 and 2013 seasons, logging no significant statistics. Early in the summer of 2014, his young daughter was diagnosed with cancer. He chose to devote time to being with her during her treatments rather than focusing on football. It came as no surprise when he failed to make the 53-man active roster and was cut. What did come as a surprise was the Bengals choice to sign him to their practice squad so that he could continue to receive both a paycheck and medical insurance. On September 10, 2014, he was elevated to the team's active roster.
Not only did the Bengals do right by helping Still out, they also chose to donate all proceeds from the sale of his jersey to the Children's Hospital of Cincinnati. The jersey set record sales when this news was shared. Not only fans of the Bengals supported this effort: New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton bought 100 of the jerseys (priced at $100 each) then donated the shirts to the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.
The story goes further. Still had attended Penn State University. A store in State College, PA, created a shirt supporting Still and announced that it would forward all proceeds from the sale to Still. Still in turn donated the money to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
There are other active NFL players who either have foundations or are actively sponsoring foundations Let's start with some Broncos:
Peyton Manning - The Peyback Foundation
Manning's foundation was established in 1999. It was designed to promote the future success of disadvantaged youth in Colorado, Indiana, Louisana and Tennessee. Since its founding it has provided over $10 million through grants and programs to at risk youth.
Von Miller - Von's Vision
Miller's foundation was established to provide low-income children in the Denver area with eye care and corrective eyewear in order to help them succeed in both the classroom and in life.
Derek Wolfe - The Wolfe Pack Foundation
Wolfe established this foundation to raise money for projects designed to assist underprivileged and at-risk youth in Colorado and Ohio.
Chris Harris Jr - Chris Harris Jr. Foundation
Harris' foundation has the aim of helping underprivileged children in Denver and in Tulsa, Oklahoma, rise above their circumstances through a variety of programs. A key component to his approach is to encourage students to make pledges regarding school, chores, physical fitness and community service.
The Broncos Alumni Association created a foundation to work in partnership with various organizations throughout out the Denver area in order to change the lives of at-risk youth. Since its founding the foundation has touched the lives of thousands of Denver-area youth.
Broncos are not the only ones sponsoring this kind of work. Others include:
Alexander's foundation works to encourage young men and women to serve as mentors for youth in their community to create a cycle of success by inspiring the youth to obtain a college education, establish a career, create a strong family unit and then give back to their community.
Babineaux created this foundation with the help of his brother. Together they have sponsored research lupus and to widen community awareness of the disease.
Justin Blalock (Atlanta Falcons) - The Justin Blalock Foundation
Blalock's foundation reaches out to students between the ages of 11 and 18 in the Dallas and Atlanta areas. It provides positive male role models for these students in an attempt to help them develop not only athletics but also educational excellence and strong family relationships in order to help the students become successful citizens in their communities.
Crotchery's foundation has the aim of helping underprivileged youth establish goals designed to enhance their futures and help their dreams become realities. It strives to help them learn to look beyond their current situations and move toward a brighter future.
Allen's foundation seeks to raise funds to assist in the research of Juvenile Diabetes with the hope that one day this disease will be eradicated.
Jay Cutler (Chicago Bears) - The Jay Cutler Foundation
Like Allen's foundation, Cutler's foundation seeks to assist children with diabetes. It sponsors programs to help children with diabetes learn ways to overcome the challenges of having the disease and help them remain focused upon their dreams.
Charles Tillman (Chicago Bears) - Charles Tillman's Cornerstone Foundation
Tillman's foundation reaches out to children and families in the Chicago area. It seeks to provide opportunities and resources to families in need. Since it's founding, it has touched the lives of over 1 million children living in Chicago.
Terence Newman (Cincinnati Bengals) - Terence Newman Rising Stars Foundation
Newman's foundation provides support to promising young student-athletes in the Dallas area. It seeks to assist students who have been nominated based on their good character, citizenship, leadership and commitment to educational excellence.
Colquitt's foundation seeks to provide Kansas City children with a variety of programs that sponsor such things as psychiatric treatment, community outreach, autism and wellness programs, family wellness programs as well as a variety of therapies.
Alex Smith (Kansas City Chiefs) - The Alex Smith Foundation
Smith's foundation addresses the needs of teens as they transition into young adulthood. It provides such services as mentoring, educational housing, internships, jobs, and advocacy programs.
Wilfork's foundation is the third in this list that addresses the issue of diabetes. It seeks to support diabetes research, activities to increase awareness of the causes of the disease and provide support for organizations that provide care to diabetics.
Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints) - The Brees Dream Foundation
Brees' foundation raises funds to improve the quality of life for those stricken with cancer as well as providing care, education and opportunities for underprivileged children and families.
Zach Strief (New Orleans Saints) - The Dream Big Foundation Fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation
Strief's foundation works in partnership with the Greater Cincinnati Foundation in order to assist children in their physical and mental development.
Brown's foundation promotes quality of life and physical fitness for youth as well as funding research into finding a cure for cystic fibrosis.
Colon's foundation promotes and supports research into finding a cure for Lupus through the Alliance for Lupus Research.
Polamalu and his wife createdt his foundation in order to raise funds for a variety of charitable causes such as: aid for those affected by the 2009 tsunami in the south Pacific, improving safety conditions for youth and high school athletes, the Pittsburgh Children's Hospital, and food programs.
Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh Steelers) - The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation
Roethlisberger's foundation raises funds to provide additional support to police and fire departments throughout the United States. It has a special focus on K-9 and service dog units.
Boldin's foundation sponsors a variety of programs and services for underprivileged youth.
Kassim Osgood (San Francisco 49ers) - Team KO Mentorship and Scholarship Program
Osgood's foundation collaborates with school teachers and administrators in finding ways to reward students who are successful in the classroom, demonstrate improved citizenship and work towards becoming more physically fit.
Pollard works in partnership with the Junior League of Kansas City, Missouri to sponsor programs that support and promote youth literacy.
Let's take a moment to applaud these players, as well as those we have not heard of, who have made the attempt to give back to their communities and/or use their high profile presence to raise support for worthy causes.
Please share any stories you've heard about NFL players, coaches, personnel who have "done good."