Harrington: Robert Porcher Man of the Year

ALLEN PARK, MICH. – Quarterback Joey Harrington has been selected as the Detroit Lions' 2005 Robert Porcher Man of the Year, which recognizes off-the-field community service. Harrington is one of 32 finalists, one from each NFL team, who receives $1,000 for his foundation and is a finalist for the NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year honor.

In his fourth year with the Detroit Lions, quarterback Joey Harrington has emerged as an outstanding citizen to the Detroit community and contributor to his hometown of Portland, Oregon through his efforts away from the field.

"The Lions are fortunate to have many players who are actively involved in the community but one player stepped to the front this year," said Lions' senior director of community affairs Tim Pendell. "Joey Harrington has been involved virtually from day one since coming to Detroit in 2002. He has established several initiatives through his own foundation as well as through several charities both in Michigan and his home state of Oregon. Joey is very well deserving of the Robert Porcher Man of the Year Award."

In the off-season prior to the 2003 season, Harrington established the Harrington Family Foundation (HFF) with a focus to promote the education, safety and welfare of children. The Harrington Family Foundation believes every child has a right to receive a quality education and proper health care in a safe and nurturing community.

HFF hosts an annual fund-raising concert in Harrington's home town of Portland, Oregon which has generated proceeds of over $100,000 going to the Shriner's Hospitals for Children in Portland.

HFF has made financial donations to many children's organizations, including a $25,000 gift to purchase a special cardiac ablation instrument for the Pediatric Cardiology program at Children's Hospital of Michigan. Harrington made a special visit to the hospital prior to the 2005 season to meet and spend time with many of the hospital's patients.

Harrington was named 2005 "Team Captain" of CATCH, the children's charity founded by former Detroit Tigers Manager and Hall of Famer Sparky Anderson. As part of his responsibilities, Harrington serves as a team spokesman for the charity, visits hospitalized children and provides support to CATCH's major fund-raising activities. CATCH raises funds for items and services that improve the quality of life of sick, injured and needy pediatric patients who receive care from Children's Hospital of Michigan and Henry Ford Hospital.

In response to the disaster of Hurricane Katrina, the Harrington Family Foundation made a $10,000 donation to Mercy Corps, a Portland, Oregon based relief organization with a long history of supporting children and helping them heal after natural disasters and other crises, both domestically and internationally. Harrington donated another $30,000 to help purchase goods and supplies and provide gas for delivery vehicles through Hurricane Katrina relief efforts arranged by the Lions.

For the past two years, Harrington has teamed up with Feed the Children and Gleaners Community Food Bank in Detroit to help distribute Thanksgiving dinners and personal care items at the Capuchin Service Center in Detroit. The effort is part of a collaborative partnership between the international charity and relief organization, Feed the Children, and Athletes First, a sports representation firm. New in 2005, Harrington has joined the 15th Annual Michigan Harvest Gathering Campaign as the Honorary Chair to help raise funds, food and awareness of hunger throughout the state of Michigan. The Michigan Harvest Gathering campaign runs from mid-September through Thanksgiving.

Since his arrival to Detroit, Harrington has also established a relationship with the Catholic Youth Organizations (CYO). He has and continues to donate 25 tickets to CYO for every Lions' home games through the CATS (Caring Athletes Ticket Service) for Kids program.

For the second-straight year, Harrington has teamed up with the Special Olympics Michigan with his Pennies-A-Yard program. By pledging pennies for his total passing yards during the season, people are able to support the Special Olympics, which provides sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.

Harrington has also served as the 2004 and 2005 spokesman for the annual Lions/Salvation Army Thanksgiving Day Coat Drive and has taken time to help promote the drive by doing public service announcements with local media.

Harrington made a visit to O.W. Best Middle School in Dearborn Heights, Michigan in 2005 as part of the NFL/JCPenney "Take a Player to School" contest. The program is an effort to encourage children ages 6-13 to stay in school and become involved in after school programs. The contest selected one winner in each of the 32 NFL markets as well as one non-NFL market.

The overall Man of the Year winner will be announced during NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue's annual news conference prior to Super Bowl XL in Detroit. The prestigious award was renamed in 1999 for the legendary Chicago Bears Pro Football Hall of Fame running back. The Walter Payton Man of the Year Award has been given annually since 1970.


On being named "Man of the Year" by the Lions: "I'm honored to receive an award which is named after a guy like Robert (Porcher). Robert has done so much for this community and it makes you feel good knowing that people think you in the same light as a guy like him."

On whether living up to the award gets overwhelming: "No that's the fun part of the job. They pay us a lot of money to do something that we love to do and that gives us the luxury to help out people that might need a little help every once and a while. My family's foundation and I have had the chance to help out a lot of groups here in Michigan and back in Oregon – it's fun and it makes you feel good."

eDuck Top Stories