NFL News, Notes, Rumors & Opinion - Even in the offseason, Stafford puts up a "win"

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Even in the offseason, Stafford puts up a "win"

The difficult upbringings of many NFL players are being further exposed as the media looks for more stories during the slow months. In 2009, Michael Lewis’ book The Blind Side was made into a major motion picture, chronicling the tough upbringing of Michael Oher, now the starting right (non-blind side) tackle for the Baltimore Ravens.

While a hit movie like The Blind Side is the most extravagant way to tell one of these stories, there are certainly easier ways to shed light on the lives of other players who have struggled. Take San Francisco 49ers star linebacker (and Oher’s teammate at Ole Miss), Patrick Willis. At the age of 10, Willis was working full-time to help provide for his family, only to have his father use the money he made for drugs instead.

Even though it wasn’t a major motion picture, ESPN brought his story to the national forefront through their documentary series E:60. If you haven’t seen it yet, take 12-minutes out of your day to do so.

Stories of overcoming adversity in the NFL are common and a lot of times those stories about players who had no or little adversity growing up get overlooked or not even mentioned because of the struggles of their teammates.

This is the case for Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford.

Stafford was one of the final rookies to sign a lucrative rookie deal, which put him ahead financially of most veteran contracts long before he ever stepped foot on an NFL field. Most people don’t know that Stafford came from a wealthy area and experienced a childhood that most of us would blush thinking about.

Stafford grew up in a very affluent Dallas town called University Park, which is just down the street from Southern Methodist University. Attending nearby Highland Park HS, Stafford commuted to school passing homes with a median average value of $996,332 (if you’ve ever driven through the town, that number would seem low.)

Who wouldn’t be jealous of a kid signing a $78 million contract by the time he was 21?

Even though Stafford’s case was an example of “the rich getting richer,” after hearing what he did over this past weekend can make one start to appreciate the heart inside of the person, which is the same no matter what their financial status is.

Stafford attended the Griese-Hutchinson-Woodson fundraiser gala on Saturday night hosted by popular University of Michigan graduates Brian Griese, Steve Hutchinson and Charles Woodson.

Stafford had already donated a package of six tickets and travel to a Lions’ Monday Night Football game in Chicago in October to help raise money for the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

While the auction was taking place, Stafford decided to bid on and won his own item. Stafford paid $15,000 and gave the prize to a child named Faith Falzone who was sitting at his table during the event.

Falzone, who has gotten to know Stafford, will be having surgery later this week. Stafford was reached by the Detroit News and said, “ I wanted to give them something they could really be excited about and something I know they deserved.”

This is just one story of many charitable contributions NFL players make during their time in the league. Stafford’s charitable efforts are in no way diminished just because of his previous upbringing. Still, it’s good to know that someone who has as much money as he does will do things to help those in need.

While Stafford may be loved in Detroit, hopefully fans of other teams take note of this great gesture and find themselves rooting for his success as the Lions begin to play more competitive football.

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Bob Hicks
Posted On: 5/21/12 7:37 pm
Nice story and well-written article.

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