When it comes to role models in the NFL, the names are many. Some are legendary, some are simply hard-working guys that give back. But many of the names that have become synonymous with charity–Kurt Warner, Doug Flutie, Rodney Peete, Steve Young–aren’t on the field any more.
And unfortunately, all too often the stories that make the news are about players who have done something stupid/illegal/offensive/violent/whatever.
When San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver made a discriminatory statement earlier this week, it was disappointing, to say the least.
“I don’t do the gay guys man,” Culliver said in a radio interview. “I don’t do that. No, we don’t got no gay people on the team, they gotta get up out of here if they do.” Culliver also said that he thought if any players were gay, they should wait and “come out 10 years later after [retirement].”
Pretty stupid comment to make when your fan base is San Francisco, possibly the most LGBT-friendly city on the planet. The 49ers, who will play in tomorrow’s Super Bowl against the Baltimore Ravens, wasted no time rejecting Culliver’s statement, and it was apparent that Culliver got a stern talking-to from Head Coach Jim Harbaugh.
At least Culliver has apologized and wants to make up for his ugly comments. His publicist announced today that Culliver will undergo sensitivity training and work with The Trevor Project, an organization that provides crisis and suicide intervention to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth.
The ruckus created by Chris Culliver inspired me to do some research to find out about current NFL players and coaches who really are the kind of men our kids can look up to. And while of course I want my kids to find role models among our friends and family, and in their community, the reality is that they’re also going to admire celebrities like professional athletes. Why not point them in the direction of athletes who are genuinely admirable?
My readers offered me tons of suggestions for players they admire, and truly, there are dozens of players who have active commitments to charities. I pulled together a list of some players whose work you’ve probably heard of, and some you may not know about. I know I haven’t listed all of the good, stand-up guys in the NFL, so leave your favorites in the comments!
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