A week from today, the members of the Minnesota Vikings will be going through their first training camp practice of 2016 in Mankato. Those players will be coming together from all corners of the country and each brings with him his own experiences and background.
Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd is one of those players and he spent what was supposed to be his down time prior to the start of the season making a difference in his home town of Philadelphia.
Floyd spent last weekend hosting a football camp at Temple University, giving back to his community in hopes of making a difference in the lives of youngsters who often don’t have much to look forward to.
“Since I started playing football, I’ve always been wanting to give back to my community and the communities around me,” Floyd said. “We got back and did a camp we called Brotherly Love Camp. It was just a free camp to give back to the city. A lot of the kids haven’t had anything for the last couple of years and we decided to have a really big camp. It was all free. We had a lot of great people and influential people come from around the city and spoke to the kids.”
One of the motivating factors for Floyd was to impress upon the youngsters that there is a big world beyond the walls of the neighborhoods where they grow up – a fact that often gets lost when the discussion of trying to improve the lives of kids comes up.
Having been through tough times as a child himself, Floyd said he drew from his own experiences as a kid growing up in Philadelphia to try to impress upon kids at his football camp that there is life beyond the boundaries that they’ve come to know, and people who care about them and understand where they’re coming from because. In Floyd’s case, he’s been there himself.
“I think the big push behind it was just knowing that a lot of these kids only know their neighborhoods and their schools,” Floyd said. “A lot of them don’t even know that there is a college called the University of Florida or a football team called the Minnesota Vikings, where I’m from. It was just to give them a different look on life and let them see that it’s more than just Philadelphia out there. You’ve just got to be willing to fight for it.”
Giving back to his community went beyond the football camp for Floyd. He spearheaded a charity auction for the family of a fallen Philadelphia police officer who died after simply being a victim of circumstance, leaving a family behind after doing something as simple as stopping by a video game store and being in the wrong place at the wrong time – a randomness that seems all too prevalent these days.
“We had an auction for a fallen officer who left behind his kids,” Floyd said. “The officer was going into Game Stop to get a couple of games for his son and there was a robbery in progress. He and his partner got into a shootout with a robber and the cop ended up passing away from a bullet. We were just wanting to show that we were behind them, we can help them and they’ve got somebody else to lean on.”
With the attention that the NFL brings with it, the little things players do to benefit those in need is often lost in the shuffle, but Floyd is serving as an example that the call to action made by athletes like Carmello Anthony and LeBron James at this year’s ESPY’s wasn’t just lip service. It starts with one person doing what he can for his community and the ripple effect from those actions can carry a lot of weight for a community in need of positive role models.