Let's get to know our Tampa Bay Bucs a little bit better. We all keep track of what they do on the field. In many respects, it's the only thing that most fans care about. We celebrate their on-field prowess, cringe when they get in trouble with the law, and endlessly debate their worth to the team.
There's more to them than that though. As sports stars, NFL athletes have large platforms for social causes, and some of them seem to really focus on that. While I do not have the numbers, I would say that the majority of players have some sort of charity involvement. For some it's a way to give back to their community, for others it's a way to support a cause that they feel invested in, and at the very least there are tax incentives for them to do so.
The way today's media seems to work is that a lot of focus is paid to on-field worth, and the only time off-field activities get mentioned much is when they're negative in nature, such as when a player is arrested, or gets sued, or reportedly fails a drug test. What I'd like to do is occasionally take a look at the other side of off-field accomplishments, and bring up some positive reasons to look at a player's off-field activities.
The first up for me is Vincent Jackson. This isn't because there aren't other deserving players, but Jackson has been one of the most active players in the league when it comes to off-field activities.
While Jackson was not chosen as a finalist this year, it was the 3rd year in a row he has been the Buccaneers nomination for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award. Since 2000, only John Lynch has been a Buccaneers Man of the Year award winner that many times.
How did Jackson win the Buccaneers Man of the Year award and be nominated for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award? He's set up a foundation and worked on issues that are very close to his heart. Both of Jackson's parents served in the military. Because of this, he's well acquainted with the struggles a military has to go through; deployed parents, constant worry about loved ones, the potential for that notification that someone you cared about is not coming home, Jackson's seen it all.
It's because he understands those difficulties that Jackson founded the Jackson in Action 83 Foundation. It's a charitable foundation that focuses on ways to make life a little bit easier for servicemen and women and their families. We're not just talking about hands-off charity either, where checks are written and handed out, and that's the extent of what happens.
This year, the Jackson in Action 83 Foundation hosted an event at the Florida State Fairgrounds. The Military Resource and Employment Symposium was a one-day event that was geared towards helping service members transition back to civilian life. It included short seminars from professionals in various fields, a career fair, and a resource fair, to help service members find civilian employment. The numbers being reported are that this event provided these resources to over 1000 service members.
Another charitable act that Jackson and his foundation do is a Military Moms Baby Shower, where new or expecting military mothers are given childcare items to make things a bit easier for them. This year 40 mothers were visited; each received a stroller, car seat, and other child-related merchandise totaling over $1000.
Jackson and his foundation have run youth camps, reading programs, donated school supplies, and even renovated a home for a service member. On top of all of that, Jackson and his wife also wrote a children's book, Danny Dogtags: Dealing with Deployment, which is designed to help children deal with the emotional impact of having a parent deployed.
Vincent Jackson's time in Tampa has been incredibly productive on the field, but he's also been a great example of what an NFL player can accomplish off-the-field as well. Regardless of what happens with Jackson going forward, his impact in our community has been overwhelmingly positive. Going forward, it will be impossible for me to think of VJax as anything other than a Buccaneer.