But, what I am..is a Football LOVER. More specifically, I have a burning love for the Chicago Bears! 🙂 I mean, I’m from Illinois, and my daddy loves them, so I grew into it (no idea what happened to my Packers fan sister.) And I couldn’t be more prouder of being a fan, even if that means I have only seen them hoist the Lombardi trophy once. (I was little…like, just over a year old, but I am certain that I was watching!) I’m confident that it will happen again in my lifetime! Ps…Im a Cubs fan too. So, I am used to saying things like “there’s always next year.” 🙂
Anyways, where was I…oh yeah, the NFL. Its no surprise that the NFL has been in some hot water as of lately. And quite frankly, its a shame that we have started the season out on such a low note. One of the reasons that I love Fall so much is because of football! I can’t wait to watch the games all day on Sundays and Monday nights. So the fact that they are getting such a bad wrap these days saddens me. With that being said, I imagine that the names Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson and Roger Goddell have been heard many, many times in even the anti-football homes across America. Though, I’m sad to hear that there are such things as “anti-football” homes! But I guess they do exist afterall.
No doubt about it, I have plenty of opinions about those three guys up there, as well as about their actions, and their repercussions. With that in mind though, I think that we should STOP focusing on the awful parts about this sport, and the league for that matter and start paying a little more attention to the good that comes from the players, organization and fans!
I challenge you to pay a little extra attention to THESE three names instead: Charles Tillman, Devon Still and JJ Watt.
Charles Tillman…Peanut, is obviously one of my faves, considering he is a Cornerback for my Chicago Bears. But more than than..he is a great person. He founded the Charles Tillman Cornerstone Foundation after one of his daughter’s was diagnosed with dialated cardiomyopathy and received a heart transplant in 2008.
One of my favorite stories about Tillman is one that hits close to home…like 10 miles away to be exact. Cora Peters was a precious little girl from my hometown area who fought her little heart out to beat synovial sarcoma. Tillman and his wife came across Cora’s story through her Caringbridge site. They visited her in the hospital here in Central Illinois and kept in contact with her and her family throughout her battle. He even treated her and her family to a game at Soldier Field. Unfortunately, Cora’s battle was one that couldn’t be won. When she passed away, there were so many people from our area that wanted to pay tribute to her and her strength that rather than a funeral, there was a memorial service for her at a local school.
I spoke with my cousin afterwards about how moving the tribute was to her. He mentioned though, that while they were packed in the gym, he looked up and saw Charles Tillman standing towards the top of the bleachers. As an avid Bears fan, he couldn’t help but recognize him. But said that otherwise, he gave no indication that he was anyone special. When the service was over, he went to the family, hugged them and we can assume gave his condolences and went on his way. There were no cameras, no reporters and certainly no spectacle. He obviously was there to honor a young girl that HE admired, not the other way around. This article says it right when they say hes “a bear with a big heart.” There’s a good reason he was named Walter Payton Man of the Year last year!
Devon Still…is a Defensive Tackle for the Cincinnati Bengals. But his most important job, is being a Daddy. In June this year, his 4 year old daughter was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a rare form of pediatric cancer. Unfortunately, she was given a 50/50 chance at life. I cannot imagine.
In September, the Bengals cut Still from their 53-Man Roster. I can assume that this enabled him to spend more time with his daughter, and take care of medical appointments, etc. But lets not forget that with the appointments come bills. I read that in the near future, his princess could face over $1M in medical bills. Luckily, the Bengals didn’t forget this either! They made the heartfelt, choice to keep Still on their Practice Roster. Not only doesn’t this keep him employed, but it means health insurance for his family and a paycheck. And the Bengals didn’t stop there..but we will come back to that. In the meantime, while Still wasn’t on the field or in the dr’s office with his daughter, he was starting a fundraiser to raise money for Pediatric Cancer. Here you can donate an amount of your choosing, or you can make a pledge for each Sack that the Bengals make this season! Cool, huh?
Now, back to what the Bengals are doing to help…in addition to recently re-signing Still to the 53-Man Roster recently! 🙂 Congrats on that!! They are also selling his jersey….LOTS and LOTS of them actually. The Bengals have decided to donate all proceeds from his jersey sales back to Pediatric Cancer research! They have sold more Devon Still jerseys in the last few days than they have sold of anyones jersey..EVER! Way to step up, and be a great organization that not only cares about the sport, but truly about the players and the greater good! And that’s not all, wanna know who bought 100 of those jersey’s??? Sean Payton….the coach of the New Orleans Saints!!! I will always be a Bears fan, but theres a tad bit of room for the Bengals and maybe the Saints in there too!
J.J. Watt…last but, obviously not least. JJ is a defensive end for the Houston Texans, 2012 Defensive Player of the Year (and he’s cute to boot.) He founded the Justin James Watt Foundation which raises money for after school opportunities for kids. I think this is a fantastic charity that gives opportunities to kids that wouldn’t have them otherwise.
When he was recently interviewed, he said that he likes to go up to the fences after the games and just meet fans; take pictures with them and say hi. Well, at one point, he came across a boy named Trey after one of his games. He ended up taking a picture with Trey and they soon became friends. It seems that Trey has down syndrome, though I don’t think that mattered to JJ at all. In the interview, he says that the one picture turned into so much more than he imagined. Turns out though, that no one believed Trey when he said that he was best friends with JJ Watt. So, they decided they would give them a little proof.
When the time game for JJ to do a charity function at a softball game..he knew who would be throwing out the first pitch at the baseball game…and Trey nailed it!
Trey isn’t the only person Watt has left an impression on though, there are others!
I know these aren’t the only players or teams that do great things. There are many, I just think that we need to start searching THESE stories out rather than focusing so much time and publicity on those that are negative.