On Super Bowl weekend, a group of 2,000 people gathered to celebrate Washington Redskins’ London Fletcher as the 2012 Athletes in Action/Bart Starr Award winner. For 25 years, this award has gone to the NFL player who best exemplifies leadership and outstanding character in the home, on the field and in the community. This award is named after Bart Starr, who is not only a member of the NFL Hall of Fame and the MVP of Super Bowls I and II, but also a man of impeccable character. He has faithfully served his family and the community over the years and has been a role model for many.
How a Player Wins the Bart Starr Award
Nominees for the award are gathered by each NFL team’s public relations director, past Bart Starr Award recipients, the Athletes in Action pro staff working with NFL teams, and Bart Starr himself. Ballots are then sent to each team where the players vote during the same time they make their Pro Bowl selections. Once the votes are tabulated, the winner is announced at the annual Super Bowl Breakfast (http://superbowlbreakfast.com). This year’s other finalists were Nnamdi Asomugha, cornerback for the Philadelphia Eagles and Jason Witten, tight end for the Dallas Cowboys.
In his acceptance speech, London Fletcher spoke of how he would walk around looking “mean” all the time because that’s what he thought he needed to do to make it in the NFL as a 5-foot-10 linebacker. However, that angry demeanor changed when he became a Christian. Fletcher admits that at first, he was afraid that his faith would make him soft. But instead, he began to play with more fervor and intensity than ever. In fact, his spiritual transition also marked a shift in his game, bringing out the beast he’s become, leading the league in tackles with 166 in the 2011 regular season. Might I add he is 36 years old? During the program, even Bart Starr commented on the fact that he had been closely watching Fletcher’s improvement over the years. That’s quite a compliment coming from the world’s first Super Bowl MVP.
Making a reference to Charles Barkley’s “infamous” quote, “I am not a role model,” Fletcher stated, “I look at things differently. I embrace being a role model.” This is clearly the case, as he is devoted to his family and a proven leader on and off the field. Fletcher takes being a role model a step further by using his mentoring program to address the inequities facing underprivileged and underrepresented children in four cities: Cleveland, Ohio; Washington, D.C.; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Buffalo, New York. Through his non-profit foundation, London’s Bridge (http://www.londonsbridge.org), children are taught essential life skills, leadership, teamwork, health and fitness. They also learn the values of good citizenship and public service. I think we can all agree: London Fletcher is more than a role model. This 2012 Bart Starr Award recipient is a game-changer in the lives of many who would most likely be lost and forgotten.
- Drew Brees – New Orleans Saints
- Kurt Warner – Arizona Cardinals
- Warrick Dunn -Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- LaDainian Tomlinson – San Diego Chargers
- John Lynch – Denver Broncos
- Curtis Martin -New York Jets
- Troy Vincent – Buffalo Bills
- Derrick Brooks -Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Trent Dilfer -Seattle Seahawks
- Darren Woodson -Dallas Cowboys
- Bruce Matthews – Tennessee Titans
- Aeneas Williams -Arizona Cardinals
- Irving Fryar – Philadelphia Eagles
- Brent Jones – San Francisco 49ers
- Darrell Green -Washington Redskins
- Jackie Slater – St. Louis Rams
- Cris Carter – Minnesota Vikings
- Warren Moon – Houston/Seattle
- Gill Byrd – San Diego Chargers
- Reggie White – Green Bay Packers
- Mike Singletary – Chicago Bears
- Anthony Munoz – Cincinnati Bengals
- Steve Largent -Seattle Seahawks
What About You?
Is there a particular pro athlete you’d like me to interview about his faith or a specific question you would like me to include? How has this story impacted you? To submit your suggestions and comments, you can contact me through www.KimAnthony.net. I’d love to hear from you! You can also follow me at http://twitter.com/UnfavorableOdds.
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