Giving Back

Much ink has been spilled and much air has been let out of bloated lungs regarding the decision over a year ago but Colin Kaepernick to kneel during the national anthem before one of his football games. Many have attacked the man himself and he has been virtually ostracized by the NFL because of his stand — despite the fact that he is an able quarterback and could help a number of teams who will have nothing to do with him.

I defended him in a post early on and I still think he has been largely misunderstood by those who can only see his actions as insulting to flag and country. But the bottom line, as an article in this month’s Sports Illustrated makes clear, is that he has had a positive impact on the issues he wanted to raise, namely, human rights, equality and fairness — all worthy concerns, indeed.

Kaepernick’s ostracism has already cost him a small fortune in lost salary and endorsements, but he has given $900,000 of the $1 million he has pledged to various charities around the country that focus on repairing some of the damage done by our long-time lack of interest in the plight of those who are chronically disadvantaged. At a time when professional sports figures are pilloried for their lack of social conscience — much of it deserved — it is heartening to be informed that not only Kaepernick himself but numerous other athletes are doing something more than kneeling at sporting events. They are doing what they can to help eradicate social injustice.

Among those who have given of their time and money are the following:

Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long who gave $375,000 so far to fund scholarships in Charlottesville, Virginia and has promised more than $650,000 to his “Pledge 10 for Tomorrow campaign which will help make education more easily accessible to underserved youths.”

Steeler’s Left Tackle Alejandro Villanueva is donating proceeds from his jersey sales to “military nonprofits — just as he has done in the previous three years.”

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning has helped raise more than $35 million for “New York March for Babies ” to fight premature birth. And his work with “Tackle Kids Cancer campaign has led to more than $1 million in fund-raising.”

Seattle Seahawk’s defensive end Michael Bennet has pledged half of his jersey sales profits to inner-city garden projects “and all of his endorsement earnings are tabbed for s.t.e.a.m. programs [science, technology, engineering, arts, and math] and charities focused on empowering minority women.”

And Cliff Avril, another Seattle Seahawk, has promised to build a house on Haiti for each sack this season — of which he has had 11 1/2 so far this season. “He and a group of NFL players built a dozen homes in the offseason, provided clean water to an orphanage and renovated a school.”

In addition, one of the two “sportspersons of the year,” J.J,. Watt of the Houston Texans has raised over $37 million for hurricane relief after a hurricane ravaged the city of Huston earlier this year. This included a $5 million donation from a billionaire and an average of $177 from over 209,000 donations.

At a time when we hear so many negative things said about professional sportsmen, this is good news indeed. We can only hope this is not a “one-off” as the Brits like to say and that it will continue as we all become more aware that there are people in need and many who are disadvantaged in a country that prides itself on its “greatness.”

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16 thoughts on “Giving Back

  1. Hugh, thanks for sharing this. Maybe Sarah Sanders should be asked what she thinks her boss would say to this? I am frustrated that we politicians with not much to offer resort to jingoism or wars on Christmases to mask that they have screwed people over. They do it because it works. Our President belittles others and lies 70% of the time before and after his election win and yet he portrays himself as a senior statesman. Keith

  2. I don’t know if Colin Kaepernick’s football career will ever be straightened out, but am looking forward to see whatever he does in the future. Know it will be significant. Hope it makes him a bundle (that will really annoy his detractors). Expect the next President to award him the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

  3. Being even-more disconnected than normal, I was reminded via your post of news items that don’t stretch this far.. Almost all sports news is on soccer, and I smiled when I read Eli Manning’s name… ‘Eli Manning. Oh! Yes! There is another world out there, one that I forgot about!’

    It’s admirable when the sports heroes set good examples for others, and triple admirable to see one in caught a controversial pinch who retains his honor and continues to do good things for others. It’s not about the self – but about dignity and helping others – and he’s doing that.

    Thanks, Hugh!

  4. Dear Hugh Cutler,

    If I owned a football team, I would definitely hire Colin Kaepernick and I would not care what the other owners agreed to do. You know that he would have been hired if this sub rosa agreement among the owners didn’t exist. But it is heartening to know that he is still generous of heart as well as other famous athletes.

    Hugs, Gronda

  5. Once again, I am late to supper, but great job, Hugh! As you know, I don’t know a quarterback from a nickleback, but I gained a tremendous amount of respect for Kaepernick when he took a stand and still admire and respect him … even more after reading this post. The faux patriotism of his antagonists has no place in my heart, but those who are actually trying to better humanity, such as the ones you are shining the light on, will live on in our hearts and consciences. Kaepernick did not simply take a knee, he put his money where his knee was and did something. Like so many others, he is so much more worthy of our respect and admiration than the faux patriots, including the MITWH as Keith calls him. Good post, my friend. Keep shining the spotlight … these guys are heroes in my book.

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