The Super Bowl of Athletes

Athletes who give back
Friday, January 28th, 2011

Aaron Rodgers, Charles Woodson & Clay Matthews

With the Super Bowl around the corner (or in the red zone for football fans), emails about what good - and not so good - athletes do - or don't do, seem to abound.  Within the past week, I received two emails about great things done by Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers quarterback. I also found an article that indicated he was not appreciative of, in fact rude to, his fans. Turns out the latter was based on a misunderstanding, the fan was not insulted and received an autograph from fellow teammate Clay Matthews. The author apologized in a later article.

Certainly, the question is often asked - do athletes have a responsibility to be better citizens than the rest of us due to their celebrity status? Are they required to donate time, resources, money or their names to philanthropic endeavors? Opinions vary, and I would argue that it would be great if they were all great role models for our young people, but America is a free country. Charity comes from the heart, and some athletes don't feel the need to give back. But thankfully, many do.

Some set up their own foundations, others work for established charities. Many focus on improving the future of young people while others focus on curing horrible diseases. Here are some of the top athletes who give of themselves to help others less fortunate than they are.

lance armstrong

Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong, winner of seven Tour de France races, set up the Lance Armstrong Foundation to help people suffering from cancer. In 2007 alone, he donated $5 million.

Charles Woodson, a Green Bay Packer and reigning AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year for 2009, donated $2 million dollars to Mott Children's Hospital, University of MIchigan. At the time, that was one-third of his annual salary. He also contributes to his own foundation, the Charles Woodson Foundation, to support breast cancer research.

Ben R & Dogs

Ben Roethlisberger

Ben Roethlisberger, quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers, set up a foundation to support police and fire department animals, primarily in Findlay, OH and Pittsburgh, PA. It also provides grants to organizations helping children in cities where he played football.

Michael Jordan, NBA legend and former Chicago Bull, Washington Wizard and UNC Tarheel, gave $5 million in 2006 to Hales Franciscan High School, a historically black all-boys school in Chicago.

Eric Lindros, former Canadian hockey player, donated $5 million to the London Health Sciences Center, where he was treated throughout his career.

Richard Jefferson, NBA player with the San Antonio Spurs, gave $3.5 million to the University of Arizona to help build a basketball and volleyball facility.

Tiger Woods has donated millions to the Tiger Woods Foundation and the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Orange County, CA. The foundation promotes parental responsibility and the center provides after-school programs and classes to help kids explore future careers. He also supports Caddy for a Cure and the Rainforest Foundation Fund and plays in several charity golf tournaments.

Andre Agassi

Andre Agassi

Andre Agassi, former tennis champion, supports the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation, dedicated to providing education for underserved youth--including The Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy located in an at-risk neighborhood in Las Vegas, and several other child-focused programs.

Many more celebrity athletes donate thousands and millions of dollars, not to mention their time, to help worthwhile projects: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, professional wrestler, NBA players Tracy McGrady, Mike Miller, David Robinson and Steve Nash, NFL players Kurt Warner, Richard Seymour and Warrick Dunn and professional fighter Oscar de la Hoya, to name just a few.

It's great to learn that, even with all the negative stories and craziness of professional sports, there are some who rise above the hype and try to make this world a better place.

Enjoy the Game!

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