This Thursday night, all will be right with the world. That’s when the NFL season begins with the defending Super Bowl champions New England Patriots facing off against AFC rival Pittsburgh Steelers.
And throughout the country armchair quarterbacks will rejoice, before spending the next four months yelling (yes, sometimes cursing) passionately at their TV as their favorite team wins (and loses) over the course of the league’s grueling 16-game schedule.
Of course, it’s human nature for fans to root for their favorite players while maligning the opposition.
But here at American Sunglass, we’re asking for a slight reprieve. No matter how much you may dislike Tom Brady or hate Eli Manning or despise Ndamukong Suh, take a moment to realize they are people too. And aside from football, they are using their fame and fortune to make a positive difference for causes that are important to them.
TOM BRADY – So we’re a little partial to the New England Patriots quarterback because he plays for our hometown team. We also get a glimpse of him every summer, riding on a bicycle on Cape Cod alongside children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities as part of the Best Buddies Challenge.
These are people who often don’t have the same social, career and leadership opportunities as those without disabilities. But the Best Buddies Challenge raises funds so they can, and the event shines a positive spotlight on them. And with Tom Brady’s support – he’s honorary co-chair of the challenge – those with disabilities are given a greater chance to shine.
ELI MANNING – If Tom Brady is Superman, then Eli is his kryptonite, having bested the Patriots quarterback in two Super Bowls as the QB of the NY Giants.
Whether you’re a Pats fan or a Giants diehard, you can’t help but root for Manning off the field as he is one of the most generous athletes in any sport. Between 2007 and 2012, he raised roughly $3 million to build the Eli Manning Children’s Clinic in Mississippi, which provides outpatient care to more than 75,000 children per year.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, he and his brother Peyton flew a plane full of relief supplies for the Red Cross that was delivered to Baton Rouge. His charitableness extends to the March of Dimes, the Phoenix House and St. Francis Food Pantries and Shelters.
No matter what you may think of him as a player, Manning is a champion when it comes to helping others.
NDAMUKONG SUH – While his on-field antics leave much to be desired, Suh’s off-field ones have made him one of the most charitable players in the NFL.
Four years ago, he donated $2.6 million to his alma mater, the University of Nebraska, which went to the school’s strength and conditioning program while creating an endowed scholarship for the university’s college of engineering.
Suh has his own foundation which purchases backpacks for students in need, buys gifts for children at Detroit Medical Center during the holidays and organizes a youth football camp focused not only on the game, but on teamwork, leadership and responsibility.
By giving back to causes important to them, these NFL players are serving as an inspiration to us all on simple ways we can #BeAnIcon.
One such company that is doing similarly laudable work is TOMS Eyewear, which operates using the one-for-one model. Here’s how it works: for every pair of eyewear sold, they donate one for someone in need.
Since launching in 2011, TOMS has helped restore sight to over 275,000 people in need and given sight to those in 13 countries, providing prescription glasses, medical treatment and sight-saving surgery with each purchase of their eyewear.
To honor icons that give back, we’re offering a 20% discount on all Sunglasses through September 30. Just use the code NFL15 when checking out.
Now, here’s to a great season (whoever you’re rooting for)!