For the Seattle Seahawks, Winning Isn’t Enough
News For a team that's appeared in back-to-back Super Bowls, remarkable community work often plays second fiddle to the on-field accomplishments.
NFL players receive a majority of their due praise what they can do on the football field. It's the part of the game most fans see. For the Seattle Seahawks, the reigning NFC champions, this is especially true. Unfortunately, that means the team's off-field community work tends to ride the bench by comparison.
But several players have made a point of matching the magnitude of their on-field actions with that of their off-field endeavors. Cornerback Richard Sherman, with his Blanket Coverage Foundation providing resources to students in low-income families, as well as quarterback Russell Wilson, with his Why Not You Foundation aimed at empowering change one individual at a time, are prime examples of such philanthropy.
For more than 30 years, Make-A-Wish has worked with the Seattle Seahawks to grant dozens of wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions. Brayden Ramus, a Make-A-Wish recipient from Merton, WI, who was diagnosed with leukemia at age 2, has been one such individual impacted by the Seahawks' off-field efforts. Brayden's wish—to meet Wilson, a former Wisconsin Badger—was granted in December 2013. Brayden and his family were flown to Seattle to attend a game against the New Orleans Saints.
Wilson spent time with Brayden at the team's practice facility, where the then 8-year-old boy was presented with a customized Seahawks jersey and his own locker next to Wilson's. The two even shared a unique moment following the Seahawks' win over the Saints that week, as Wilson spotted Brayden on the sideline and walked him back into the locker room to join the postgame celebration.
"The Seahawks organization really knows how to make our wish children feel special," says Barry McConnell, president and CEO of Make-A-Wish Alaska and Washington. "From players and coaches to the front office, the Seahawks roll out the red carpet to ensure our wish families enjoy unique experiences and are creating memories to last a lifetime."
“I just try to put my best foot forward and try to change the world in some way, and try to make an effect on somebody every day.”
After the Seahawks clinched a berth in Super Bowl XLVIII, Wilson called Brayden and invited him to the game with four tickets provided by one of the Seahawks partners, Snoqualmie Tribe, allowing Brayden and his family to witness the franchise's first NFL championship.
“I just try to put my best foot forward and try to change the world in some way,” explains Wilson, who spends his off days during the season visiting patients at Seattle Children’s Hospital, “and try to make an effect on somebody and help somebody every day.”
Leading by example
Sherman, a Stanford graduate who hails from the historically rough neighborhood of Compton, CA, has made annual visits to his hometown to speak with students at his high school alma mater about the importance of education.
"I’m really adamant about giving these kids a chance, because I feel like a lot of kids drop out and unfortunately go down the wrong path because they just feel like they don’t have the chance," Sherman said. "They don’t have the opportunity to be successful, and we’re trying to change that.”
More than a game
Sherman and Wilson's achievements scratch the surface of what the Seahawks have accomplished through community outreach. Executive VP and General Manager John Schneider has raised more than $850,000 for autism spectrum disorder treatments, running back Marshawn Lynch has hosted a free football camp for Oakland-area youth nine years running, safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor have established programs to give back to kids in their respective hometowns and defensive ends Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett have taken steps to fight juvenile diabetes and childhood obesity.
"I think the kids need to see guys that are successful, guys that have made it, guys that have been through the struggle and never gave up," adds Chancellor. "I think kids need to see that—just showing them hope that they can also be in the same position one day."