A short, sappy article (with a cynical punch line at the end).
When it comes to how professional athletes “really” are, I am as jaded as anyone. But I saw two stories recently that make me feel pretty confident I can say the following sentence:
Joe Haden and Trent Richardson are really nice guys.
For those of you who don’t know of Joe Haden, he’s a defensive back for the Cleveland Browns. Drafted 7th overall out of Florida in the 2010 NFL Draft, he is entering the third year of a 5 year, $50 million contract.
On Friday, May 11th, he took an 18 year old high school senior to her prom. Joyce Grendel is a member of Haden’s fan club (according to this Yahoo story[i]) and an avid follower of his on Twitter. Her original date backed out a couple of days before, so she asked him via a tweet to be her replacement date. To her surprise, he answered, picked her up in a white Lamborghini and accompanied her to the prom.
Joe Haden is 23 years old, makes $10 million annually and is a star in the National Football League. For most athletes, spending a Friday night in the offseason making a fan’s dream come true would not be high on the priority list. (I would be no exception – were I in Haden’s shoes, and made that kind of money, I would probably spend every off-day doing something that involved jet skis, paintball guns and kegs of Lazy Monk Malzer blend… all at the same time.)
Haden was following in new teammate Trent Richardson’s lead. The rookie running back (selected fourth overall this year) took Hueytown High School senior Courtney Alvis to her high school prom in his home state of Alabama. She was previously diagnosed with leukemia and is currently undergoing chemotherapy (Read more about the story here[ii]). Richardson was put into contact with Alvis through her uncle, who had some connection to the star running back.
I am a bitter, cynical person 95% of the time, but bear with me while I overflow with positivity for one more paragraph. Both Richardson and Haden could have easily ignored the requests, and no one would have blamed them one bit. They went anyway. They were motivated purely by having a connection with a fan, and wanting to make someone’s day. Despite having to go to a prom (as awful as that is) and (almost certainly) being beset with photo requests, autograph seekers and hours of uncomfortable attention, they went anyway. They’ll almost certainly get crap from their friends and peers about going to a prom, and they went anyway.
It probably says something about my nature that I can barely muster 500 words about something as nice as these stories. I am cautious about proclaiming athletes or entertainers to be “good people” because I don’t know any of them personally, and really, our cultural form of hero worship has gone off the rails.. But what Richardson and Haden did doesn’t need much analysis. They each saw an opportunity to make a fan’s day, and they went out of their way to do so. Kudos to them. I wish more athletes did the same – though I understand why any athlete would feel a bit guarded and would want to distance themselves a bit. Not everyone can be a Haden or a Richardson.
Not even Tim Tebow. This poor Iowa girl had to take a life-size cardboard cutout of the Jets’ fullback backup quarterback to her senior prom[iii]. Apparently, she attempted to contact the team, his agent and even Tebow himself, only to get no response.
Would you like a pudgy. broke blogger to take YOU to a prom? E-mail me at BreakTheHuddle@gmail.com, send me a tweet @BreakTheHuddle or hit me up on Facebook.
Editor’s note: There’s no way I’m actually doing that. None.