November 18, 2013

Benevolence Around the National Football League

By - Sandra Nevins

Wide receiver Dez Bryant recently made headlines by showing up at a Wal-Mart at midnight and buying PS4's for several people waiting in line.

That seemed to be a PR move, and a thinly-veiled attempt at repairing a tarnished image. Nice try though, Dez.

We are all familiar with the renowned philanthropy of perennial league good guys like Drew Brees and Peyton Manning, but there are many other unsung heroes out there too.

Former NFL running back Warrick Dunn lost his mother while she was working a second job. She was killed during an armed robbery attempt. Dunn made it his mission to help single parents so that they aren't forced to work multiple jobs. His "Homes for the Holidays" helps assist single parents in providing down payments for homes, subsequently filling them with everything needed, including food.

Photo by: Al Messer
Also, during his playing days, Dunn challenged NFL players to donate at least $5,000 to Hurricane Katrina relief. Over $5 million was raised. For his charitable efforts, Dunn has received numerous accolades, including receiving the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.

Brandon Marshall has been an incredible talent on the football field, but always seemed like a loose cannon-type. Recently, he was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. His foundation's mission is to educate the public about mental illness and to assist those in finding the proper care they require.

London Fletcher aims to help children. His foundation, "London's Bridge," mentors underprivileged students in Cleveland, Washington D.C., Charlotte and Buffalo in leadership, teamwork, education and healthy living.

The four-time Pro Bowler was a finalist for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award in 2010.

It's one thing to simply write a large check out, it's another entirely to be of service to your fellow man. Wide receiver Steve Smith epitomizes humility. He provides shoes to the homeless. Beyond that, Smith literally puts on surgical gloves and washes and massages the feet of those receiving the shoes. He talks to them and makes that personal connection to those that society tends to forget.

Smith's goal is to give away over 500,000 pairs of shoes, and he has teamed up with Samaritan's Feet in order to accomplish that target number.

Amid the scandals and arrests in the NFL, it is refreshing that there are some athletes who use their celebrity not just for their own personal gain, but to help others as well.

For that, we say thank you.

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