SEATTLE — Professional football players in the U.S. are often known for their tackles or catches played on the Sports Center highlight reel. However, there are several men in the NFL who are extending their influence beyond not only the sports world but beyond the United States. Listed below are some of the top NFL players fighting global poverty:
Top NFL Players Fighting Global Poverty
- Carson Wentz – Carson Wentz may be the current quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles, but he’s also spent much of his time and efforts helping those in need. The North Dakota State University Alum and second overall pick of the 2016 NFL draft helped raise $500,000 to improve living conditions for the underprivileged in Haiti. In addition to raising money, in 2018 Wentz enlisted his teammates to join him on a trip to Haiti to build a new sports complex for children, paint houses and deliver meals.
- Michael Thomas – The safety for the New York Giants and Stanford graduate Michael Thomas cares about much more than just football. Thomas, who was named to the 2019 NFL Pro Bowl, regularly volunteers for the nonprofit organization Food For the Hungry. This program works to provide life-changing resources—such as clean water, medical aid, food and educational opportunities—for those in more than 20 underdeveloped countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Thomas is an advocate and “champion” for Food for the Hungry. When asked why he works with Food for the Hungry, he answered, “I promised myself as a child if I achieved my dream of making it in the NFL, I would use my resources to give back to the community. It’s not okay that there are still children in the world who don’t know where their next meal is coming from. It’s not okay that there are still communities without clean water. We have been so blessed, and we want to use what we have been given to help others.”
- Nate Sudfeld – The backup quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles, Nate Sudfeld, volunteers his spare time doing on-the-ground-work in East Africa. His grandfather, Bob Pagett, founded the nonprofit organization Assist International; this humanitarian organization has initiated more than 500 projects in more than 65 underdeveloped countries. Sudfeld himself has taken several trips to Uganda to spend time with young orphans.
- Ndamukong Suh – Ndamukong Suh, defensive tackle for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has accomplished much more than All-American honors for his career at the University of Nebraska. Recently, Forbes has named him as one of the most charitable athletes in the U.S. Aside from his charitable contributions in the U.S., Suh created the Ndamukong Suh Family Foundation. This nonprofit organization creates programs to improve education, health, wellness and nutrition in developing countries.
- Sam Acho – Eight-year NFL veteran and former linebacker for the Chicago Bears, Sam Acho volunteers at his parents’ nonprofit foundation named Living Hope Christian Ministries. With his early years of volunteering in Nigeria, Acho has helped build schools for young children and medical centers to help with growing health issues. In 2017, Acho traveled with his family to Nigeria for the grand opening of the Living Hope Medical Center, a hospital built by his family’s foundation to serve the health needs of the underprivileged.
- Pierre Garcon – Former wide receiver star for the San Francisco 49ers and current free agent, Pierre Garcon, has focused his humanitarian efforts on giving back to the people of Haiti. Of Haitian descent himself, Garcon has used his platform in the U.S. to raise awareness of the issues with rebuilding the damaged country. In addition to raising awareness, Garcon created the foundation Helping Hands, which works to improve the little things for children, like building playgrounds, donating bikes, running football camps and more.
- Larry Fitzgerald – Larry Fitzgerald, wide receiver for the Arizona Cardinals, initiated the First Down Fund. Although his foundation primarily helps children and families across the country, Fitzgerald has recently extended his foundation’s support to those suffering from poverty across the globe. Already, he has embarked upon several international humanitarian trips, including a mission trip to Rwanda in 2017 and travels to Malaysia to provide more than 2600 hearing aids to those in need.
All in all, these seven football stars have made perhaps an even bigger difference off the field than they have on it. Hopefully, other NFL players and fans alike will follow the influence of these NFL players fighting global poverty.
– Sam Elster