Across the country, NFL coaches, general managers and sports analysts are scrutinizing draft prospects’ every move with this question in mind: “Is this guy a Game Changer?”
The three finalists for the Walter Payton Service Award leave no doubt in anyone’s mind. They are true Game Changers.
Green Bay Packer Aaron Rodgers was on the bus after being named the MVP of Super Bowl XLV, when he asked himself, “What next?” Like his idols Bart Starr and Walter Payton, he recognized he had a responsibility beyond winning football games. He found the answer in the eyes of children he met at a Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer (the MACC Fund) event. Inspired by their hope and strength, he joined their team and never looked back. Along with being credited for raising $1.6 million for the cause and moving the chains in the fight against cancer, he is enhancing the lives of these children in every way that he can.
San Francisco 49er Anquan Boldin has played for three different NFL teams. Wherever he is, his belief that “If you have it, you should give it” leads him to ask himself, “How can I give it?” The answers resulted in his Q81 foundation which offers a dental program in Arizona; provides hundreds of meals to the hungry on Thanksgiving in San Francisco; funds shopping sprees for grateful children every Christmas in Baltimore; and allocated a million dollars in scholarships for deserving students.
Every Christmas Eve growing up, Carolina Panther Thomas Davis went to bed with the hope of finding presents under the tree in the morning. Remembering the disappointment he felt when he woke to find nothing, convinced it was because he was ‘bad’, prompted him to ask, “What can I do to make sure other children don’t feel the way I did?” The answer is his Defending Dreams Foundation, an organization dedicated to changing the lives of children. In countless ways, it is doing just that.
These NFL greats may have the means to give back on a grand scale but beneath it all is a simple message: kindness is a game changer. It has the magical ability to shift momentum and change the course of someone’s day or even someone’s life.
And the good news is we can all take a page from their playbooks. Be kind to another person and watch what happens. Before you know it, you’ll be a game changer, too.