NFL impact important

By JEAN L. KAESS

There are a ton of stories written on the influence, both positive and negative, professional athletes have on children. Such stories usually appear when a pro football player makes some bonehead (or worse) move on or off the field.

Think of Jeremy Shockey’s behavior at the end of Sunday’s Saints versus Panthers game, and you have a demonstration of the poor sportsmanship that is a mild form of the behavior I’m referring to.

For the record, I am a huge Shockey fan, but am undecided as to what to think about him right now. Time will tell whether he simply is a passionate player or harbors true ill will toward his former team. If the latter is the case, sorry, but my loyalty to the Saints comes first.

Back on topic, illegal behavior like Michael Vick and his dog fighting scandal or Donte’ Stallworth who killed a 59-year-old pedestrian while driving drunk certainly outweighs New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick’s “Videogate” scandal. Each, however, highlights the type of bad behavior we’ve come to, if not expect, then at least tolerate from our professional ball players and coaches.

It’s something I’ve frankly ignored until this past weekend when I realized that NFL players truly do have a huge influence on their younger counterparts.

If you’ve watched any pro football during October, then you know that players are wearing pink on various parts of their uniforms in support of breast cancer awareness.

I was surprised and a bit impressed when I covered Friday’s Patterson High School game and saw many of the players donning pink in the same fashion.

I was even more impressed when I saw the young men of the Atchafalaya Football League wearing pink to their games on Saturday.

That’s when the effect of NFL players on children truly hit home.

Kudos to every player who wore pink in support of his mother, sister or for a friend of a friend. Maybe you knew someone whose wife died from breast cancer, or you just wanted to do what your favorite player does and so you wore pink to the game.

Kudos to every coach who allowed his players to wear pink and to every parent who supported his or her son in wearing pink. Maybe a 10-year-old doesn’t know how devastating the disease is, but maybe one day he will take five minutes and look up a little something about it just to find out why players wear pink in October.

Maybe the cheerleader on the sideline will take 10 minutes to find out about the disease since she saw the boy she has a crush on wearing pink.

Either way, that’s one more person who has increased awareness about the disease, and it’s all because an NFL player did it first.

See, that’s the thing about influence. If you’ve got it, it can be used for good or evil. I just wish NFL players realized how much of it they actually have.

St. Mary Now & Franklin Banner-Tribune

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