The 125 Million Dollar Football Philanthropist
For those that don’t know, I’m a huge Oakland Raiders fan. Folks often ask me how I came to follow a team on the opposite side of the country. The origins of that come from my Aunt Shelia, who lives in San Leandro, (a town right next to Oakland) and ran a successful small business in Oakland for a few decades prior to beginning a career in public service.
To say I’m a Raiders fan is probably an understatement. I am an absolute super fan. Several years back I purchased NFL Sunday ticket so I didn’t have to waste money at bars watching the game, and could instead watch the game from home. I daresay it has been ten years since I’ve missed a Raiders game.
And the intensity with which I follow the game can be seen in my poor dogs cowering or acting disturbed while I watch it, with every loud holler when the Raiders get a first down or a touchdown. Really dogs, I’m not mad- I’m a super fan!
Prior to last year the Raiders had suffered through over a decade of losing seasons, which really started with their blowout loss in the 2003 Super Bowl to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Things started to change recently for the Raiders in the 2014 NFL draft when they selected Derek Carr in the second round as their new franchise quarterback.
And he hasn’t disappointed. Carr is the only quarterback in NFL history to throw for more than 80 touchdown passes with fewer than 40 interceptions in his first three seasons in the league. Additionally, last year he led the Raiders to the playoffs for the first time since 2002- but it was a playoff run that ended short when Carr broke his leg on Christmas Eve playing the Colts.
Just as much as I am a super fan of the Oakland Raiders, I am becoming a super fan of Derek Carr- not just for the excellence he demonstrates on the field, but for the excellence he strives for off the field in life.
Last month Carr was rewarded for his efforts with a 5 year, $125 million dollar contract- yes that’s right,that equals out to $25 million dollars a year. Right now that is the highest contract in NFL history.
In a time when we see professional athletes live braggadocios lives and ones of conspicuous consumption and excess, Carr serves as a role model for doing things a different and better way.
If you have followed Carr, you know that he is very outspoken about his Christian faith, not so much in a preachy shake your finger at others kind of way, but in personally speaking about how it has impacted his life. He also is viewed as a very strong family man to his wife and two young children.
But where I think he really excels as a role model is in his commitment to giving back to the community.
At his website he promotes philanthropy through giving to Valley Children’s Hospital, whose mission is “to provide high-quality, comprehensive healthcare services to children, regardless of their ability to pay.” Carr’s first son had complications following his birth and benefited from the work of the Hospital- and Carr has stated he is committed to philanthropic efforts that supports children’s hospitals throughout the country.
During the press conference following the awarding of the 125 million dollar contract, Carr was asked what he was going to do with the money he had earned.
Carr stated, “First thing I’ll do is pay my tithe like I’ve done since I was in college, I’ll probably give my wife something nice. The exciting thing for me money wise, honestly, is that this money is going to help a lot of people. I’m very thankful to have it, that it’s in our hands, because it’s going to help people not only in this country and countries around the world. And that’s what is exciting to me.”
He further stated, “When I saw the money and what kind of impact it could really make, that’s when it really hit me. I’ve been down to Haiti, I’ve seen some of the struggles they have there and the kids there, and my heart just… I cry sometimes thinking about it. Just knowing that we can go down there and make a difference and help, those are the kind of things- now we can do some things that can help a lot of people.”
So it’s not just these words and plans of Carr’s that makes me believe this guy is super decent….
In recent months a Facebook video has gone viral throughout the Bay Area about a stranded driver being helped by a star NFL quarterback.
As the man walked to the gas station, a gentleman drove by and offered to give the man a ride.
The man recants the story:
“I got out of his car, filled the gas can up, hopped back in the car, and I said, hey, so you said you played football, what position do you play?
He said oh I’m a quarterback.
And I said oh that’s cool. I continued to make conversation with him. I asked him what string he was.
Oh I play first string.
And I was thinking in my head, oh he probably plays college ball. I didn’t think anything of it.
And then I said what’s your favorite team?
Well, I’m a little biased because I play for the Raiders!”
Professional athletes are often criticized for their behavior and lack of concern for the broader community. I have hope that Derek Carr and his work outside of football will serve as an example to other professional athletes that the privileges they have earned can serve as a platform for doing good in the world.
And I think Carr’s example serves us all well in that we can be better about being our brother and sister’s keepers.
And whether you are a football fan or not, or whether your team is an avowed enemy of the Oakland Raiders, I think we all can get behind and cheer the work of Oakland’s #4.