As I walk though malls or go to a movie theater, even grab a burger at a fast food joint, I see kids of all ages sporting jerseys and shirts of their favorite NBA and NFL stars. Unfortunately, many of these men mistook the fact that God blessed them with athleticism and a specialized talent and instead took it to mean that they are both better than everyone else and above everything. Even the world of college sports was rocked this last year by the Penn State scandal.
I’m not going to point out any of the obvious transgressors but I do want to give a big thumbs up to two NFL stars who act like they realize that being athletic is partially hard work and partially a blessing and, in addition, show some humility.
Everyone that knows me knows that I am a dedicated New Orleans fan. Not just of the football team, although I have been a fan since they were formed and once caught a pass from Archie Manning at a football camp, but of the city itself. Both of the athletes have their connection with the city.
Eli Manning, born and raised in New Orleans, may often feel like he is traveling in the shadow of his bigger brother Peyton, but you would be hard pressed to find a humbler quarterback more deserving of the title Superstar.
After the NY Giants won their second Super Bowl this past January under his leadership and throwing arm, you might have expected to see Eli thumping his chest, partying in Cabo, or talking about how great he was. Instead, when he gave his speech at the NY City Hall a couple of days after the victory he spent the time thanking everyone involved and sharing the glory. This is the way he consistently carries himself, on and off the field. No showboating, no run ins with the police, no temper tantrums, just get the job done.
The second role model that I would choose for my sons is the current QB of the New Orleans Saints, Drew Brees.
Future Hall of Famer without a doubt, Brees is a consummate gentleman and a hard worker, epitomizing the work ethic required to be at the top of your field. Coaches and players both state that Brees is usually the first one at the training center and often the last one to leave. He takes time from his workouts to help his team members improve, one good example being Tight End Jimmy Graham who we expect to be on the Role Model list soon.
Drew came back from as devastating an injury as it is possible for a quarterback when he tore his labrum by getting hit trying to recover a fumble during his stint at San Diego.
Brees is, for now, the highest paid player in the NFL but like everything else that has happened to him, he hasn’t let that go to his head. Around the league players appear genuine when they congratulate him.
Brees is a family man, as you can tell from his social media posts, a top worker in the NFL Players Association, and puts time and money into New Orleans, which is still trying to recover from the devastation.
Like Manning, the only things you hear about Drew Brees are good things and anyone would be proud to point to that man and his accomplishments and say, “I want my kids to grow up to be like him”.