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Beyond the Sideline: NFL players can be heroes too

Darius Fleming – Linebacker, Hero.In amongst constant stories of NFL players stepping on the wrong side of the law, the


Darius Fleming – Linebacker, Hero. In amongst constant stories of NFL players stepping on the wrong side of the law, there are those who show that there are heroes amongst the ranks of football’s elite. Yesterday, a statement came out from St. Rita High School in Chicago concerning one of its former players – Patriots Linebacker Darius Fleming – which briefly sparked both praise and controversy. On their facebook page, the school stated that Fleming had arrived at the scene of a car accident last Thursday and, seeing a woman’s car on fire, subsequently kicked through a window, allowing her to escape. One thing that isn’t disputed is that Fleming sustained a cut on his leg which required 22 stitches, with which he then played against the Chiefs two days later. There were initially reports in national media that there had been no car accident. The police department involved, however, later confirmed the story, although there are some doubts as to whether the car was on fire – It appears that the airbag in the vehicle involved was set off causing the appearance of burning. Either way, Fleming was prepared to put his body, and in doing so, his livelihood, on the line in order to help others, and deserves the commendations coming his way. Even though football players often get a bad rap in the media, there’s definitely more positive than negative. We aren’t far away from the announcement of the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, which recognises the good done by NFL players in their communities. Take Eric Berry, for instance. The Chiefs safety has returned from battling cancer and won a $20,000 grant towards his foundation, which uses sporting activity to help rejuvenate communities. Richard Sherman, one of the loudest mouths in the game in recent years is another nominee. His Blanket Coverage charity provides school supplies and clothing to disadvantaged children to allow them better access to education. In men like Berry, Sherman and Fleming, there are examples to be followed for young players. Whether it’s sacrificing time, money or even putting your body on the line to help others, the NFL is full of those who do good, yet frequently the high profile is given to those who transgress in the worst possible ways. That’s why the Walter Payton Man of the Year is so valuable. It reminds us that every team has its own heroes, both on and off the field.


Pete Hallifax

I'm a fan of all sports, but cover NFL here. Nobody was more shocked than I was that the Patriots won Super Bowl 51.

Beyond the Sideline: NFL players can be heroes too

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