Part of the life of an NFL athlete is a sense of obligation: an obligation to pay forward to your community what you have gotten back. That is why so many players have their own charities or organizations beyond the typical community work that they do as a standard part of their team activities.
So much attention is paid to athletes whenever they make mistakes off the field or say the wrong thing in the heat of the moment after a tough loss, but rarely do you come across a headline about a player doing some good in his community or in the world.
They’re out there, sometimes, but you’d have to look for them. They won’t be shoved down your face or talked about for a weekend’s worth of sports talk. Shows. Now, if he were to have been arrested coming home from serving disabled veterans meals and driving them to their poll stations for driving without a license, that would be talked about.
Chalk this up to a long-walk attempt by me to guilt people into caring about the fact that Pittsburgh Steelers safety Sean Davis found a way to give back to the community in which he grew up in a way that means something to him.
During his third offseason as an NFL player, he set up his first football camp, which is something that he wanted to be able to do for his community well before he was a professional football player, simply because it was something he always wanted to be able to experience as a kid himself. And of course the camp was free of charge.
Helping him with the event was Tavon Young, the third-year cornerback of the Baltimore Ravens who also grew up in the same area. They were drafted in the same class, into the same division, separated by two rounds. They defied the odds and want to help others from the region that produced them get a head start to success.
“He’s just a good dude. That’s one of my friends. Like we’re really friends. He’s really my brother”, Young said of Davis. “We bond, going to camps together. He’s always been a smiley happy dude”.
Both players said that they didn’t recall having any camps in the area similar to the one Davis organized this year, and Young said that fact was one of the reasons he wanted to be involved. They spent the time working with the children who came on a Saturday talking about football and life in general, and what doors the game can open.
I think there is an increasing number of people who are beginning to see how critical it is for the future of the game at the highest level to pay greater attention to the game at the lowest level—or rather the youngest. We have to be diligent to assure that it remains not just viable for parents, but productive and beneficial for the kids.