As Citizen editor Larry Platt said this week, Sunday’s Super Bowl is about more than just Eagles vs. Patriots. It’s a cultural referendum for our time. “For there is no team more aligned with Donald Trump than the New England Patriots, both personally, and in terms of values represented,” he wrote.” And there is no team in professional sports as socially conscious as our Eagles.”
Leading up to the big game (Fly, Eagles, Fly!) we’ll profile two players a day whose commitment to social causes rivals their hustle and determination on the field. These are players who are using their time, money and platform to make the city and world a better place. In our eyes, that makes them winners no matter what.
Today, we highlight one player who is supporting Philly schools through Eagles-inspired swag and gear, and another who is helping youth across the city find ways to reach their full potential.
Lane Johnson, Tackle
First, Lane Johnson announced he’d be donating $165—his jersey number—for every Eagles touchdown this year, to St. Jude’s Research Hospital. Then, in October, he launched a clothing line, LJ65, with all proceeds going to the Fund for the School District of Philadelphia, a nonprofit that raises money for the city’s schools.
“Education plays a vital role in success, whether students are aspiring to become a professional athlete or the president of the United States, education is mandatory,” Johnson says on his website.
But he didn’t stop there. As the Eagles headed into the playoffs, Johnson and teammate Chris Long put out a limited edition “underdog” t-shirt, which is said to have raised $100,000 for the schools before selling out. He also worked with oldies.com to sell dog masks to benefit the schools; those sold out quickly, too. As a final act—until the field—Lane and Long convinced the NFL to donate proceeds from its underdog t-shirt sales to Philly schools, too.
Torrey Smith, Wide Receiver
Each year, Torrey Smith stands in front of a group of boys from inner city Baltimore, telling them about his father’s addiction to drugs and alcohol and how he overcame those challenges to achieve his goal of attending college.
This speech kicks off the three-day L.E.V.E.L Teen Summit, an annual program dedicated to high school boys who face the same sort of challenges as Smith did. L.E.V.E.L Teen Summit is hosted by the Torrey Smith Family Fund, a non-profit organization with a mission to provide youth with the tools they need to identify, unleash and reach their full potential.
In addition to L.E.V.E.L Teen Summit, the organization also has a Back to School Fun Fest, which donates school supplies to young students; a Reading Oasis, which created several reading rooms in Baltimore school; a Holiday Cheer program to prepare meals and purchase gifts for families in need and the L.E.V.E.L STEM and Sports Camps. In memory of Smith’s late brother, a $5,000 scholarship is also available through his organization.
In 2016, Smith traveled to Flint, Michigan to help deliver 34,560 bottles of water, $30,00 worth of adult cleaning wipes, and $5,000 worth of baby cleaning wipes. For his efforts in communities throughout the nation, Smith has been nominated as his team’s Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year three times.