With Super bowl Sunday closing out the official NFL season, a lot of NFL Teams are currently in a ‘reset’ state of mind. However, just because these players aren’t out there dominating the field does not mean that they are halting all efforts. To a lot of young boys and girls, (and even some adults too) NFL Football Players leave quite the impression; whether it be heroic, inspirational or even motivational. Some players, go above and beyond to inspire the people of the world. Not only are they heroes on the field, but they’re heroes to their local communities as well. Below are a list of some NFL Players who truly made an impact to their communities:
10. Ndamukong Suh
When former Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh isn’t busy on the field, he’s equally aggressive about donating to charity. In 2012, Forbes ranked Suh highest among NFL players on the top 30 most generous celebrities for his $2.6 million donation to the University of Nebraska, which included $2 million for the athletic department and another $600,000 to a scholarship fund for the College of Engineering. Suh also runs a number of his own charities, such as the Ndamukong Suh Family Foundation. With a new six-year contract from the Miami Dolphins worth over $114 million, Suh has plenty of capital to maintain his spot as the most charitable player in the game.
9. Peyton Manning
During Hurricane Katrina, Eli joined his brother Peyton to help the Red Cross bring supplies to victims. It’s hard to know who has donated more money to charity between the two Manning brothers. Since 1999, Peyton’s PeyBack Foundation has provided over $10 million to provide leadership and growth for at-risk youth, for which he received a National Jefferson Award for outstanding achievement in public service. Since 1998, Manning and his wife have donated an undisclosed amount to Indianapolis’ St. Vincent Hospital, which renamed its children’s hospital the Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at St. Vincent in 2007. With Manning now playing for the Denver Broncos, his foundation donated $630,000 to Colorado causes last year. Peyton received the 2015 Bart Starr Award in recognition of his charity work, as well.
8. Drew Brees
Just as the game of football has become a passing game, the list of the NFL’s most generous players is dominated by quarterbacks, who earn the highest salaries and have the most to give. New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees currently has the top base salary for NFL quarterbacks at $18.75 million. For many years, he has given back generously. He started the Brees Dream Foundation in 2003 to support cancer patients and research. To date, the foundation has raised over $22 million for various global causes, possibly making Brees the most generous donor on this list. Like the Mannings, Brees helped New Orleans recover from Hurricane Katrina, turning his foundation toward the cause of rebuilding the area. Brees won the 2011 Bart Starr Award for the $6 million he contributed toward cancer research and other causes.
7. Tom Brady
Brady actively raises funds for Best Buddies International, which helps people with intellectual and developmental disabilities by pairing them with friends and mentors. Brady recently donated his $170,000 speaking fee to the organization, and the Best Buddies Tom Brady Football Challenge awarded one winning donor the opportunity to play with Brady in a touch football game.
Brady also works with other charities, including the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the Entertainment Industry Foundation and KaBOOM! This month he donated $50,000 to the Jimmy Fund, which supports adult and pediatric cancer care and research.
6. Jordy Nelson
In 2014, Jordy and his wife Emily started the Nelson Family Community Foundation, which benefits families in need in his community in Kansas. For the past seven years, Jordy and his family’s restaurant (Nelson’s Landing) have held an annual benefit that raises money for local families in need. Jordy Nelson donates much of his time and efforts to various causes within the Green Bay and Kansas communities. In June of 2014, Jordy Nelson hosted the annual Offense vs. Defense Softball Game in Appleton, WI. The game benefited Young Life, a Christian nonprofit organization that pairs adult volunteers with mentor students, the Nelson’s have partnered with Young Life for the past 5 years. Over 8,000 fans were in attendance for Jordy’s inaugural game with game earning national attention from ESPN, Sports Illustrated, USA Today and Bleacher Report. When it was all said and done, over $100,000 was donated to the game’s beneficiary Young Life.
5. Eli Manning
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning was another NFL player to appear on Forbes’ 2012 list of most generous celebrities for his $1 million donation to help low-income students at the University of Mississippi. More recently, the two-time Super Bowl winner was recognized from the New York Observer as one of the top 20 philanthropists under the age of 40. IRS data from 2006 to 2012 shows that, in addition to the $1 million Manning gave the University of Mississippi, he also raised almost $3 million to build the Eli Manning Children’s Clinic, which provides outpatient care to over 75,000 children annually. For the past nine years, Manning has hosted the Guiding Eyes for the Blind Golf Classic, which has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars every year to help provide seeing eye dogs. And just last year, the tournament raised approximately $700,000.
4. Aaron Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers has been generous both with his money and his time, recently raising $50,000 on Celebrity Jeopardy to fight childhood cancer. Aaron partnered with the Pro Player Foundation to host Twelve’s Day of Christmas, which serves children from the Ecumenical Partnership for Housing and the Salvation Army. The event helps deserving children enjoy a holiday shopping spree at Shopko, a pizza party, and the chance to mix and mingle with their favorite Packers players. He is also activist for the Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer (MACC) Fund and hosting a fundraising banquet in Milwaukee, WI on behalf of the organization.
3. Ben Roethlisberger
The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation was created in order to support police force and fire departments, with a concentration on the K-9 units and service dogs used. Big Ben has always had a love for animals instilled in him by his father.
“My Dad instilled in me a love and respect for animals. This is a good way to combine that passion with a desire to support the police and fire departments, which deserve all the appropriate resources needed to protect our cities and neighborhoods, and allow these brave men and women to arrive home safely”
2. Brandon Marshall
Inspired by his own struggle and diagnoses of borderline personality disorder (BPD), Chicago Bears, Wide Receiver Brandon Marshall created the Project Borderline Foundation to help those who suffer from the illness. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, BPD is a condition characterized by difficulties in regulating emotion. During the summer of 2011, Marshall was diagnosed with BPD at McLean Hospital in Boston, MA. When asked about his foundation on CBS This Morning (March 8, 2012) Marshall said “Our mission is to spread the word about [BPD], fight stigma, educate, advocate, reach out, bridge the gap, and change the face and future of this disorder…” The foundation continues to help raise awareness of BPD through annual walks and Marshalls’ speaking engagements.
1. Tim Tebow
In its first year, the Tim Tebow Foundation, which brings hope to orphans and kids battling life threatening diseases (far surpassing its original fundraising goals). The nonprofit aimed to pull in $2.5 million and managed to rake in a little over $4 million.
Of course, there are dozens and dozens of professional sports players who go the extra mile (or 10) to make a difference in today’s world. Thank you to all of these players for your amazing contributions, you are truly inspirational to us all!
Source: Make A Wish, Look to the Stars, NFL Play 60