With all of the negativity surrounding the recent indictment of Aaron Hernandez, football fans need a positive story to fall back on. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of those who are committing acts of charity with our list of the Five Most Charitable Athletes in the NFL.
This “Saint” helped restore faith in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina by not only winning a Super Bowl, but also rebuilding parts of the city. His Brees Dream Foundation has donated over $17 million dollars since its inception in 2003, with recent $1 million donations to victims of Hurricane Sandy, and $2 million to organizations in New Orleans. Dedicated to “improving the quality of life for cancer patients, and providing care, education and opportunities for children and families and need,” Brees is a man defined by more than football accomplishments (or his hilarious Nyquil commercials). Tune into this video on Ellen when Drew and his wife Brittany talk about their foundation.
Fletcher has been in the news a lot recently, for both his charity work and his 16th season with the Washington Redskins. Fletcher’s organization, London’s Bridge, is based out of Cleveland and works to address “the inequalities facing underprivileged and underrepresented children through mentoring and charitable programs.” The foundation’s main focus is working with communities in Ohio, DC, North Carolina and New York, but that’s not all London focuses on. With talk of joining ESPN after his last season (whenever that may be) this extraordinary athlete has also lent his voice to The Heather Trew Foundation, which works to encourage organ, eye, and tissue donation.
In 2010, the Tim Tebow Foundation was created to “bring Faith, Hope and Love to those needing a brighter day in their darkest hour of need.” No matter your opinion of Tebow or his unabashed Christian faith, it’s hard to not fall in love with his consistent message of optimism. Through his Orphan Care program, Tebow’s foundation serves more than 850 orphans in five countries. Timmy’s Playroom is another Tebow-sponsored outreach campaign that builds playrooms in hospitals around the country to allow children “to take their minds off their medical treatment and just be kids again.” No matter the team he’s on or off, or the position he plays, Tebow is always valuable to the kids he helps.
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It’s hard to make a list about nice guys in the NFL and not see Peyton Manning somewhere in it. This world-class athlete is also an all-star giver, and has given back extensively throughout his 15-year NFL career. Manning established endowed scholarships at his alma mater, the University of Tennessee, which has already honored 20 recipients. Through his Peyback Foundation, $581,000 has been donated to youth-based community organizations just this year, bringing the grand total to $6.5 million since the foundation’s start in 1999. When he’s not busy with the Broncos or starring in rap videos as the face of NFL Sunday Ticket , Manning is most likely to show up without warning at the Peyton Manning’s Children Hospital in Indianapolis.
For those “suffering in silence” with a mental illness, the hardest part of it may be dealing with the stigma that accompanies the disorder. Luckily, Brandon Marshall, wide receiver for the Chicago Bears, is there to lend an important voice to disarming the stigma surrounding Borderline Personality Disorder, which Marshall suffers from. The Pro Bowl MVP winner’s mission through his Project Borderline foundation is to “spread the word, fight the stigma, educate, advocate, reach out, bridge the gap, and change the face and future of this disorder.” Working to create a more open conversation about a topic that is so rarely talked about, the NFL has needed someone willing to openly talk about mental illness while they’re playing the game.