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Did you watch the Florida Gators defeat the Oklahoma Sooners 24-14 in last night's BCS National Championship college football game? In case you missed it, the player of the game was Florida quarterback Tim Tebow. It was an interesting match up of the two previous Heisman Trophy winners (Tebow 2007) and 2008 Heisman Trophy winner Oklahoma Sooner quarterback Sam Bradford. The game progressed from a surprisingly low scoring first half into a game where Tebow led his team to an impressive victory. Tim Tebow was the star of the game, but what viewers learned last night is he is a community star as well. Tebow and his family have made volunteering and giving back a critical part of their lives and it can only be expected that Tim will do even greater things once he is playing in the NFL.
Unlike most professional sports broadcasts, the human interest stories of players and coaches in collegiate athletics are featured more prominently and often pull on one's heart strings and inspire. I am embarrassed to say that majority of the time that I feel choked up and on the verge of crying is during these type of personal stories (sad but true). I am moved by stories like that of Jordan Steffy who is a Senior quarterback at the University of Maryland. Jordan started his own foundation called Children Deserve a Chance after being motivated by a classmate's need for brain surgery as a result of his fight with epilepsy. He has been fundraising and mentoring ever since.
Ironically you don't hear enough about these players' social contributions once they actually join the NFL. Yes we see the fun NFL/United Way commercials and sometimes there is a mention on the local news, but these contributions are not celebrated enough during the games in which most people are paying attention. What most don't know is that so many of the players in the NFL do give back in their community and are really making a difference.
A great example of NFL players giving back are the latest 32 players recognized by the President's Council on Service and Civic Participation for their commitments to their communities. Just two examples from this year's President's Volunteer Service Award winners are Tennessee Titans Linebacker David Thornton and Seattle Seahawks Wide Receiver Bobby Engram. Both were honored for their strong support of the United Way's PLAY 60. In addition, Thornton, who was most recently presented with his PVSA from President's Council Vice Chair and famed recording artist Michael W. Smith, does volunteer work to prevent domestic violence. Engram has created a personal foundation that supports outreach on Sickle Cell Anemia.
Take a look at the list below of the NFL players that received this prestigious award and learn more about what these players are doing in their community.
NFL players that received the President's Volunteer Service Award:
Arizona - Matt Leinart Atlanta - Keith Brooking Baltimore - Ed Reed Buffalo - George Wilson Carolina - Jordan Gross Chicago - Roberto Garza Cincinnati - Brad St. Louis Cleveland - Kamerion Wimbley Dallas - DeMarcus Ware Denver - Rookie Club: Ryan Clady, Carlton Powell, Eddie Royal, Jack Williams and Wesley Woodyard Detroit - Mike Furrey Green Bay - Donald Driver Houston - Vonta Leach Indianapolis - Gary Brackett Jacksonville - Mike Peterson Kansas City - Donnie Edwards Miami - Greg Camarillo Minnesota - Adrian Peterson New England - Matt Light New York Giants - Eli Manning New York Jets - D'Brickashaw Ferguson New Orleans - Drew Brees Oakland - Nnamdi Asomugha Philadelphia - Brian Dawkins Pittsburgh - Brett Keisel St. Louis - Chris Draft San Diego - Steve Gregory San Francisco - Isaac Bruce Seattle - Bobby Engram Tampa Bay - Jovan Haye Tennessee - David Thornton Washington - Santana Moss