It's not only about making Packers roster, but chance to make difference
Stephen O'Brien, Packers contributor
In Super Bowl XLV against the Pittsburgh Steelers in February 2011. | Photo: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
It is a very stressful, and sometimes somber time around Lambeau Field this time of year.
Players who have been grinding hard in camp and preseason to impress will be told they they are not good enough and will be asked to leave the grounds for what could be the very last time.
I have read in some pieces that these players have been working hard since April. That is not true.
These young men have been working and conditioning their bodies for as long as they can remember.
Ever since a parent put a football in their hands and a dream in their hearts, these players have strived and worked hard to realise their dreams, and those in Lambeau now are within fingertips reach of that goal.
As kids, we have all dreamed of being something.
Some dream about owing a house in the countryside wheras some wish for millions of dollars and cars where doors open up instead of out, and have homes only accessible by elevator with penthouse keys.
When it comes to it, our dreams are a little smaller and if we end up losing that job, for whatever reason, there isn’t massive media coverage of our shattered dreams, simply a family member or spouse to urge us on and help us back on our feet.
For an NFL player or prospective player, it is not only a player and their loved ones that miss out when players are called into that office to be cut, it can be a whole community.
As much as the players receive for their efforts and talents, they give so much back to the community and it seems that this is the type of player that Ted Thompson brings to Green Bay in the first place.
So many of these wonderfully talented men are charitible men and we must remember that for every player that makes the roster, we all stand to benefit greatly.
Let's list four examples:
Donald Driver is an institution in Green Bay.
You truly know you have made it when you can drive down the street in your car, park on a street named after you and probably get a free coffee in any cafe that you stop at.
Then you can take that coffee and sit beside the statue of yourself erected in your honor and take in the feeling.
As much as the community has given to Donald, he has given so much back off the field. Driver runs the Donald Driver Foundation to help families overcome homelessness and poverty.
Through his foundation, he has given $100,000 in scholarships to children in need and provided them with a “hand up and not a hand out.”
As a child from an underprivileged background, Driver has such a personal connection to the cause and doesn’t want to see kids go through the pains and hardship that he he did.
Another man from a homeless background is that of James Jones.
Jones bounced from shelter to shelter as a child but still managed to realise his dream of becoming a Packers player.
A character who had a tough start to his NFL career who drew the ire of fans for a long time, Jones now spends his playing time leading the league in yardage and leading the charitible charge off the field.
Along with his wife Tamika, James runs the Love Jones 4 Kids charity to help poor children in San Jose and Green Bay.
The foundation helps children from poverty stricken backgrounds to participate in community programs to keep them off the streets, focused on a goal and stay in school.
Aaron Rodgers is another outstanding man.
He is the best QB in the NFL according to mosts analyst and many of his peers, but ARod also excels off the field too.
He works with the MACC Fund to help fundraise against the battle of childhood cancer. The charity has donated millions of dollars to cancer research, supporting an annual budget of $1.45 million dollars to the Medical College of Wisconsin for the battle against this horrific illness.
Rodgers has been shedding light on the organization in the media and has created promotional videos where he visits sick children and spends the day listening to their stories.
The site itsaaron.com showcases some of these wonderful interactions between the athlete and some wonderful children in aid of the MACC Fund.
Mason Crosby has won the camp kicking battle with the release of Giorgio Tavecchio for now but the win has such a bigger effect for the community at large.
In 2012, Crosby was not only kicking field goals for the Packers, but he was kicking for cash for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
For every successful field goal he kicked, $1,000 was donated to the Make a Wish foundation in association with Sartori Cheese and the Green Bay Packer Radio Network.
It is enough to have the pressure of the best fan base in the world on your back, but to be making such a difference in terms of money for charity, there was a lot at stake when Crosby lined up to kick the pigskin through the posts.
Crosby is also heavily involved in a charity called The Locker, run by his mother in Texas.
The charity provides support for children in need in Georgetown, Tx. and features Mason’s mother Karen as the head of the Board.
Crosby also stages kicking camps to aid local children in the form of Camp Crosbys.
For those players being cut, it may not be the end of their dream. They may very well get the call again to Lambeau Field.
For those who make the roster, there is so much more to cheer about when they make the cut.
We not only get to see these pro athletes strengthen the legacy of the Packers, we get to help them realise their dream of giving back to the community and help vulnerable young children get a better start in life.
When I interviewed Sam Barrington, newly drafted rookie ILB, one of the most important things on his agenda was giving back to the community of Green Bay.
This is the type of man Ted Thompson drafts in Green Bay and we can rest assured that, for as much as Green Bay helps these men reaslise their dreams, there will be hundreds of kids waking up to a brighter future because of it.
Scroll through the slideshow for photos of the four men Stephen cited in this story, Mason Crosby, Donald Driver, James Jones and Aaron Rodgers.