Basketball great Charles Barkley once famously said in a commercial that he was “not a role model.” His (largely misconstrued) point was that pro athletes shouldn’t be role models for kids anyway.
Well, by and large, that’s probably true. But if my son wanted to idolize a pro athlete, he can go right ahead and admire Bills safety Jairus Byrd. Whatever the opposite of “entitled” is, that describes Byrd, who has gone completely above and beyond the call of duty since being drafted by the Bills three years ago. The man is totally driven to help others:
“You really don’t realize how you can be a blessing to others until you sit back and see how others are impacted by what you do. Once I got here to Buffalo I realized I could make a difference to other people.”
- He devotes time to the NFL Play 60 Super School Program and last month Byrd and his mother, Marilyn, attended a Play 60 event in Holland to honor Jennelle Nadler as H.O. Brumsted Elementary’s Super Parent.
- He has a Twitter account devoted to “Louder Than Words,” i.e. showing the good actions in the world and basically promoting a positive attitude.
- Last year, Byrd was the Bills recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award, given to the player who exemplifies a commitment to the principles of sportsmanship and courage.
- Over the summer Byrd became a spokesman for Compassion International, a 59-year-old faith-based organization whose mission includes helping lift children from poverty and enable them to become responsible, fulfilled Christian adults.
- From the Buffalo News: “When the Bills played their preseason game in Chicago last August, Byrd met Abbel Joseph of Haiti and Lois Nangudi from Uganda who told their stories to Byrd about growing up in poverty. With the help of [Compassion International], Joseph and Nangudi gained newfound hope and are now attending Moody Bible Institute in Chicago.”
- He sponsors two children living in Brazil.
- This offseason, he hopes to form his own foundation to further his charitable goals.
Simply put, Byrd’s the kind of guy who will do some good in Buffalo. Let’s hope he has a career-long stay in Western New York.