In 2006 I got to meet and interview New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees and last week I had the pleasure to make the acquaintance of Baltimore Ravens safety and Destrehan High School alumnus Ed Reed.
What I found interesting about both meetings is that neither took place on the field, or at a game, or even at a press conference after a game.
Both meetings took place at high schools in the river parishes. Both involved an athlete donating his time or money for worthy causes.
Last but certainly not least, both athletes were extremely nice guys and very easy to talk to.
Personally, I think it's because they’re both southern boys like myself with Brees being from Austin, Texas and Reed hailing from St. Charles Parish, but all joking aside, it's refreshing to see professional athletes make great strides on and off the field.
There are plenty of players who have forgotten where they came from or those who choose to not give back for whatever reason. That doesn't make them bad people, they just aren't extraordinary like someone who gives of their time when it's not necessary.
Even though Brees and Reed have never played on the same team, play totally different positions and aren't even in the same time zone most of the time, seeing their similarities when it comes to giving had me asking myself why these players give so much of themselves.
Reed never lacked the talent, but had to fight for every grade he earned through high school and college. Brees didn't have the same scholastic troubles as Reed but found himself playing for a college that hadn't been to a bowl game in several years when he signed with Purdue. Pro-football wasn't even an option for Brees when he went to college.
Was it overcoming adversity that made them so prone to giving back to their community?
Perhaps, or maybe it was injuries that they had to work through on the field that made them so grateful to be in the positions they hold today. Maybe there is no one reason that explains why they do what they do. Maybe they just like to give back because it makes them feel good.
Maybe we'll never know, or maybe it's something that just can't be explained.
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