By Ken Reed
The MVP of Super Bowl LVI was Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp. It could have just easily gone to Rams QB Matthew Stafford, who had three TD passes and led the winning scoring drive. Or, Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who made two amazing plays to end the hopes of the Cincinnati Bengals. If the Bengals had pulled it out, the MVP likely would’ve gone to QB Joe Burrow, or possibly WR Ja’Marr Chase, if he would’ve made another terrific catch to help pull out the victory.
But the true hero of Super Bowl weekend, was Rams offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth, who won the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year Award for outstanding community service.
Whitworth is dedicated to using his platform to help others.
“Lead with your heart,” said Whitworth in a powerful six-minute acceptance speech. “You will never regret making something about more than yourself.”
This past season alone, Whitworth launched the Big Whit Homes for L.A. Families program and donated $20,000 to the cause after each Rams home game. He also made donations to repair homes in his home state of Louisiana and moved people in L.A. who were facing housing insecurity into affordable homes. In addition, Whitworth also works with other non-profits in L.A. to aid people in paying rent, and buying groceries. Moreover, he offers support to the needy for down payments and the furnishing of homes. When Hurricane Ida hit Louisiana in August, Whitworth teamed with Rebuilding Together to assist with essential home repairs to damaged homes.
Whitworth said everyone can make a positive difference in the lives of others by doing any one of three things: 1) contribute financially to causes your passionate about; 2) give your time to help others; and 3) use your platform — no matter how big or small — and voice to help bring about change.
“It’s called an investment,” he said.
“You can apply those three things to any charity or cause you have a passion for. You can invest your time, you can invest your finances or you can invest your voice, doesn’t matter which, we just have to keep investing in each other. Let your heart lead you all the way.”
When Rams head coach Sean McVay first arrived in Los Angeles to take the helm of a mediocre team, he made t-shirts to hand out to players and other Rams personnel that said, “We not me.” It didn’t take long for him to realize that Whitworth lived that phrase — on and off the field.
The Rams ended up beating the Bengals and the 40-year-old Whitworth is likely to retire. If he does, he’ll leave a Super Bowl champion and the reigning Walter Payton Man of the Year.
Well done Mr. Whitworth. Well done.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families. Linda writes extensively about how youth sports can hijack families, and family outings, non-sports activities and bonding time are lost in the pursuit of the next club team game or travel tournament.
Follow on Facebook: @SportsForumPodcast
Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.”
Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Episode #24 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Mental Health and Athletes: Ending the Stigma – Nathan Braaten and Taylor Ricci are the founders of Dam Worth It, a non-profit created to end the stigma around mental health at colleges and universities through sport, storytelling, and community creation.
Episode #23 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Olympian Benita Fitzgerald Mosley Talks Title IX, Youth Sports and the Olympics.
Episode #22 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Rethinking Sports Fandom with Author Craig Calcaterra – We discuss Calcaterra’s new book “Rethinking Fandom: How to Beat the Sports-Industrial Complex at Its Own Game” and explore new ways to be a fan.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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