What Pope Teaches Us

There hasn't been much to talk about with the Chiefs so far this Summer since the entire NFL is stuck in a league-wide stalemate with a labor lockout.

If things were on schedule, the Chiefs would be conducting organized team activities. Instead the Chiefs, like all the other 31 franchises in the league, are stuck with having their players organize their own workouts.

In the meantime, fans and media members alike are on extended vacation until the NFL resumes business as usual. Summertime means we get to spend more time with the family at home or on vacation, or most likely, at the neighborhood pool.

This was just the case for the Chiefs' backup tight end Leonard Pope this past weekend. At home in his hometown of Americus, Georgia, Pope was catching up with family and friends from his old familiar grounds.

On a scorching hot, regular Saturday night in Georgia, Pope lived up to his nickname of "Champ" and rescued a six-year-old boy from drowning at a pool party. Pope was heralded as a hero who reacted with no hesitation when hearing pleas from onlookers that a child was drowning in the deep-end of a pool.

Pope jumped into the pool with all of his clothes on—not stopping to put his cell phone or wallet in a dry, safe place—and pulled the youngster to safety. In a offseason which has been dominated by the same headlines about bitterness between the NFL and the players, and also between the fans and the NFL itself, it was heartwarming to hear such a story with a human touch.

It was 28 years ago this month that the Chiefs' star running back Joe Delaney attempted to save three children from a pond in his native Louisiana. Two of the children drowned with Delaney, but one managed to survive the horrible tragedy. The incident still haunts the Chiefs' franchise, but it still also shows the human side of such a bright, young American man.

In July 2008, former Chiefs tight end Tony Gonzalez was involved in a similar incident in saving a strangers' life. While dining at a restaurant in California, Gonzalez used the Heimlich maneuver to save a man from choking. As it turns out, Gonzalez and the man eventually became friends despite the man admittedly being a big fan of the San Diego Chargers.

What it boiled down to with these three Chiefs players was that in crunch time, Pope, Delaney, and Gonzalez all stepped up to save someone's life. All three at one point had exemplified what it takes to be a sportsman off the field as much as it is to be on the gridiron. Pope expressed his desire to help the drowning boy because he has two daughters of his own, and said he would only ask for the same if the situation had occurred to his own children.

In the past two months since the NFL's owners initiated a lockout, there's been plenty of assumptions placed on the whole situation. Who is to blame more? Commissioner Roger Goodell? De Smith? The players? The owners? Everybody? Anger itself has drown the entire NFL landscape and there's more finger pointing than fact checking.

Stories such as this concerning Leonard Pope, a backup tight end who caught a mere ten receptions last season as a Chief makes you realize that we're all human. The majority of NFL fans will not hesitate to view the majority of the league's players as heartless, greedy, and unattached to their fan bases, but I refuse to do so. Every professional athlete is just as human as we are.

Most fans won't take time to realize that while a small percentage of players in the NFL are multi-millionaires, there are far more unheralded players that are trying to make a living, and are just as normal as we are. Leonard Pope was just enjoying a Summer night in his hometown before he stepped up to the challenge of life versus death.

Leonard Pope won't ever see a multi-million dollar contract come his way, but acts like this show that he has just as heart as any human being should have. He won't need money to reward his heroic acts off the field because stories like this will resonate much longer than any amount of money, and will outshine such squabbles such as the NFL lockout.

I would like to personally congratulate Leonard Pope for such a heroic act. After all, not all NFL players get in the headlines for the bad reasons.

Heroes like Pope don't always get the credit they deserve.

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