7 Humanitarians to Celebrate on Super Bowl Sunday
These 3 Patriots, 3 Eagles, and 1 singer are standing up for social justice.
When the Patriots and Eagles face off on Sunday to determine who will take home the Super Bowl LII title, the game will feature more than just the NFL’s two top teams.
It will also showcase several of the league’s greatest humanitarians.
And with Pink, a champion for women’s and LGBTQ right, singing the national anthem, the Super Bowl offers all spectators — even those more interested in the commercials— something to cheer for.
Global Citizen campaigns on many of the issues championed by these advocates, including access to clean water, equality for women and girls, and an end to global poverty. You can take action on these issues here.
Regardless of who wins, these seven Super Bowl participants are champions on and off the field.
When Pink belts out the national anthem before the Big Game, some viewers will focus on whether or not her rendition surpasses two minutes — a popular Super Bowl prop bet — while others will scan the sidelines looking for kneeling players.
But global citizens can use the time to consider Pink’s work championing the rights of the LGBTQ community and women as well as advocating for mental health treatment.
“It’s important for people to be visible, living their life and living it well so that kids can say, ‘I can do that,” Pink told the Advocate. “I think it’s absolutely important that we’re all sharing our experiences, because in [many places] it’s hard to be gay. In a lot of places it’s hard to be black, and in a lot of places it’s hard to be female.”
2// Malcolm Jenkins
All season long, players’ brave anthem demonstrations have galvanized human rights advocates and forced many spectators to consider the injustices experienced by people of color throughout the US. At the same time, the protests have sparked a nationalist backlash from others, including the president.
By raising his fist during the national anthem, Malcolm Jenkins has gained a lot of attention for his on-field activism. But it is his work away from the field that has earned him a nomination for the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year, which recognizes players most committed to humanitarian work.
Jenkins’ foundation supports young people in underserved communities in the Philadelphia area, but to Jenkins, the foundation’s work would be incomplete if it did not address the systemic oppression affecting people of color throughout the US.
“I can create as many programs and mentorships and scholarships as I want, but it doesn't change the environment in which our youth are growing up in,” Jenkins told NPR. “We want to see a change in our communities in the way we interact with police.”
Jenkins’ commitment to criminal justice reform — like erasing mandatory minimum sentences and ending workplace and housing discrimination against people with criminal records — has fostered important conversations among police officers, lawmakers, and the communities he works to uplift.
🙌🏾 this is a huge honor for me and everyone who makes my efforts possible! To my family, friends,board members, sponsors, volunteers, colleagues , and staff I want to say thank you! Keep up the good work! @TheMJFoundationhttps://t.co/QKq8XQeSBo— Malcolm Jenkins (@MalcolmJenkins) December 8, 2017
3// Chris Long
Whenever Jenkins raises his fist on the sideline, his teammate and friend Chris Long is there beside him. Long stands next to Jenkins each game and places his hand on his friend’s shoulder in a demonstration of solidarity.
Long, who is white, realized he had to take a stand after white supremacists marched through Charlottesville, Virginia — home of his alma mater University of Virginia — and killed a woman protesting their racist message.
The tragic act of hatred also compelled Long to donate his entire 2017 salary to fund education programs in cities around the US, a campaign that has raised $1.75 million so far.
In addition to his domestic work, Long addresses issues related to worldwide poverty through his organization Waterboys. The NGO assembled eight other NFL stars who “team up to tackle thirst” by funding water and sanitation projects throughout Africa.
As we count down to the new year, we get to reflect and prepare for what’s ahead. For all the bad news that seemed to dominate our collective consciousness, there are countless stories from this year that remind us what's best about America.— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) December 29, 2017
4// Nate Sudfeld
Eagles backup quarterback Nate Sudfeld grew up immersed in worldwide humanitarian projects thanks to his grandfather who founded the aid organization Assist International. The organization supports communities around the world as they address issues related to public health, vulnerable children, and water. According to their website, Assist International works on projects such as providing advanced medical equipment in Mongolia and developing orphanages in Romania.
Along with his brother Zach, a former NFL player, Sudfeld has visited various parts of Africa to work on projects, including building sports facilities and a school for children in Uganda whose parents died in the country’s HIV crisis.
5// Martellus Bennett
Alongside his brother Michael — a Pro Bowl defensive lineman for the Seattle Seahawks — Martellus Bennett has taken a leadership role among NFL players in the fight for racial justice.
The brothers earned a BET Shine Your Light Award for their humanitarian work, including donating all their endorsement money to fund after school math and science programs and organizations that empower women and girls.
The purpose of life is a life of purpose.— Martellus Bennett (@MartysaurusRex) October 14, 2017
6// Devin McCourty
Another set of brothers with a Patriots connection are also taking on issues that affect people of color, especially the black and African American community.
In 2013, twins Devin McCourty — who plays for the Patriots — and Jason McCourty — a defensive back for the Titans — established the Tackle Sickle Cell campaign, which educates people about the disease, funds research, and encourages people to donate blood.
Sickle Cell Disease is an illness that affects people’s red blood cells, distorting healthy, round cells into hard, sticky, C-shaped cells— like a farmer’s sickle. The misshapen blood cells clog the bloodstream and delay oxygen delivery.
The disease predominantly affects people whose ancestors come from sub-Saharan Africa, the West Indies, and other locations near the equator.
7// Nate Solder
So proud of our Board Member @soldernate for his nomination for the @nfl#wpmoychallenge. Not every day your work gets a shoutout during a great @patriots playoff win! Thanks @CBS!#freshtruck#mobilemarket#food#health#healthy#fruit#veggies#boston#newengland#patriotspic.twitter.com/oftFxvrLqq— Fresh Truck (@FreshTruck) January 14, 2018
As New England’s Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee, Nate Solder has demonstrated his commitment to an array of causes, including children’s health and food access for people in low-income neighborhoods.
Most notably, Solder has dedicated his time and money to Fresh Truck, an organization in Boston that converts old school buses into mobile food markets. The trucks provide access to healthy food for Boston residents who disproportionately experience obesity and related illness, like diabetes and hypertension.