This Week in NFL Do-Goodery: Solomon Thomas, Malcolm Jenkins, Jamon Brown
The NFL season is rapidly approaching. Players who are now lightly mimicking football moves in minicamps and will soon be putting in grueling hours and plenty of sweat during the hard knocks that define training camp. But instead of relishing every last moment of free time, so many NFL players are out in their communities brightening the lives of others and raising money for passionate causes.. This week I put out a call on Twitter to send in acts of kindness and was blown away by the response, which only reinforces the idea that there is plenty of audience interested in community heroes. Here is this week’s roundup of do-goodery, and as always this list is a mere sample of NFL players using their platform to better the lives around them:
The Atlanta Falcons have a great rags-to-riches piece on guard Jamon Brown who grew up in poverty in Louisville. Raised by a young, single mother, Brown and his siblings struggled with day-to-day life, let alone the funding required to participate youth sports. Luckily for the Brown family they received some aid and survived. And lucky for the rest of society, Brown is amplifying his fortunate lot in life to help others near and far. His Jamon Brown Foundation focuses on relatable issues like at risk youth and homelessness, largely in the Louisville area. The piece lauds Brown for paying for the funeral of a 1-year-old boy who tragically died after being hit by his father who lost a video game. Brown also wants to help globally and this summer is covering health care costs for children suffering cancerous tumors in a Liberian village.
The Eagles signed DeSean Jackson this offseason, reuniting the fiery wideout with the organization that drafted him in 2008 and made him a star. When Jackson was first drafted, he was a kid with a propensity to be immature. By the time he left Philadelphia in 2013 he was a respected community stalwart who had started a foundation and became one of the leading anti-bullying voices in the country.
Jackson’s tireless altruism was on public display last weekend. He hosted his free annual F.A.S.T. (footwork, agility, speed, technique) football camp for area youth, an event he also put on during his days with Tampa and Washington. Then hours later,Jackson surprised several homeless people in South Philly with boxes of food just to be kind.
DeSean Jackson last night went around North Philly giving food to the homeless
“We’ve got some free food for y’all”
— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) June 9, 2019
Eagles CB Malcolm Jenkins may be a no show at minicamp as he awaits a new contract, but he continues with relentless community activism. Last Friday, Jenkins, as part of The Malcolm Jenkins Foundation. fed 400 underprivileged families in Camden, New Jersey. According to the foundation, 37% of families in Camden are living below the poverty line.
Jenkins’ widespread community work is well known and on Tuesday night he was awarded the 2019 McSilver Award at NYU, which honors individuals who are addressing “needs of individuals, families, and communities living in poverty, locally and globally.”
When the school year began, Ravens CB Brandon Carr visited Glenmount Elementary/Middle School in Baltimore to promote literacy. Carr gave students free books, empowered them to read, and promised to return with a special surprise if they worked hard all year. The students were paired with mentors and had a to engage in a lot of reading each week.
Carr kept his promise and last week treated 27 lucky students to a day of indoor flying. “This seems to me to be a huge motivator for those kids, Carr told CBS in Baltimore. “They work so hard throughout the year advancing their literacy, eighth graders and second graders working hand-to-hand to have accountability.
Last week Rams rookies got to meet some of plumbers, electricians and other workers who are helping build the Rams’ new home and better the community. But these weren’t ordinary employees; they were formerly imprisoned. ‘Last Chance U’ star Dakota Allen was among Rams players who swapped stories with these men seizing another chance at life. The meeting with the approximately 100 formerly incarcerated was captured by NFL Network’s Steve Wyche.
The @RamsNFL rookies found out today that being in the @NFL is far more than making plays on the field. They met roughly 100 former inmates who are building the new LA Stadium – and building better lives. @nflnetwork. pic.twitter.com/hIYKUkS1Wn
— Steve Wyche (@wyche89) June 7, 2019
The Rams also recently helped host a football clinic for children with incarcerated parents.
In many cases, acts of altruism are inspired by our own experiences, often tragic. This is certainly the case for 49ers DE Solomon Thomas, who lost his sister, Ella, to suicide in January 2018. Ella was struggling with mental illness. Since her passing, Solomon has been a staunch advocate for mental health awareness and suicide prevention. For the second straight year, he participated in San Francisco’s American Foundation for Suicide Preventions Out of the Darkness Overnight Walk last weekend.
Thomas and his family were joined by teammates like WR Dante Pettis and a number of members of the 49ers staff. The 49ers also made a $10,000 donation to ASFP in Ella’s name.
Per Jourdan Rodrigue of the Charlotte Observer, members of the Carolina Panthers split into groups on Monday to present local non-profits with funding as part of its Player Impact Committee. Players researched many worthy organizations and donated $300,000 to non-profits ranging from teen pregnancy to literacy to affordable housing. The groups were led by TE Chris Manhertz, LB Luke Kuechly, retired DE Julius Peppers and WR Torrey Smith. Check Rodrigue’s feed for videos from the day and more details about each organization.
Colts defensive end Al Quadin-Muhammad held a free football camp on Sunday at Kean University in New Jersey. The sold-out event for grades K-12 was coed and included football skill building, non-contact games and lectures from Quadin-Muhammad and other NFL players, along with Newark mayor Ras Baraka. Quadin-Muhammad grew up in New Jersey and was considered the no. 1 prospect in the state in 2012.
Jets LB Brandon Copeland spent the last several months teaching a financial literacy course at the University of Pennsylvania.
Bears CB Ha Ha Clinton-Dix unveiled the headquarters for his Ha Ha HEROs headquarters at Mendota Elementary School in Madison, WI. Students were given a reading oasis and 600 new books.
Lions CB Teez Tabor chatted with students in Detroit about his rough upbringing as part of the Lions Talk it up Thursday, a player’s social-justice initiative.
The Buffalo Bills partnered with local volunteers to fulfill the wish of superfan Pancho Billa, who recently passed away, and stuff backpacks with school supplies for students in need.
The New York Giants are teaming up. with Westchester County domestic violence non-profit, My Sisters’ Place to support victims of abuse.
Packers QB Aaron Rodgersmade a seven-figure donation to Cal Football to renovate the program’s locker room and establish a football scholarship.
Dolphins WR Albert Wilsonis being honored as a Community Hero. Wilson is a tireless volunteer in his community, working with all facets of those in need.
Redskins CB Josh Norman returns to his hometown of Greenwood, SC this weekend for his annual Fun Day, a free event for of bounce house, games, and more.
Jets CB Brian Poole,Titans LB Rashaan Evans and Giants CB Antonio Hamilton are all hosting free football camps this weekend, and Eagles CB Jalen Mills is hosting a free 7-on-7 tournament. (Click on names for more details.)