The NFL is full of players who are upstanding members of their communities, and for the most part these players tend to be favorites among their respective fan bases because of the positive influence they provide off the field. The same can be said about our Carolina Panthers, who have a roster filled with guys who spend their off time doing work outside of their duty as football players. Whether it’s Jordan Senn helping build playgrounds for local elementary schools, or Jordan Gross hosting his annual Kick Cystic Fibrosis charity game, or Thomas Davis hosting his Defending Dreams Foundation events; the Panthers have a plethora of guys who are deeply involved in the community, and we as fans tend to root for them more because of the positive impact they have on the lives of others.
The same holds true for Panthers LB Jon Beason, who took time out of his busy off-season schedule to visit the Marines stationed at Camp Lejeune earlier today. As a Panthers fan I already have an appreciation for what Beason does on the field (when healthy, of course), but as a human being who has several family members - both alive and deceased - in (or formerly in) the military, I can’t help but feel a deep sense of pride to be able to say "Hey, that guy plays for my favorite team."
He’s not forced to visit military bases during the off-season. It’s not part of his contract. He does it voluntarily, and he does it because it’s the right thing to do. To me, that makes it even more special. It’s one thing for players to do required charity work (if there is such a thing, I’m not 100% sure), but it’s something totally different for players to do this stuff of their own accord. It really sets a positive example for our younger generation, and it gives them the ability to look up and say "Hey, you know - not all superstar athletes are selfish jackholes." While other players are busy promoting themselves and doing whatever it is pro athletes do in their spare time, Jon Beason is giving back to the community, and I couldn’t be prouder to be a Panthers fan because of it.
My experience at Camp Lejeune was definitely a new found appreciation. All of the preparation that goes into being successful was evident. Words can't express how grateful I am for the men and women in the military. They sacrifice greatly so we don't have to. Special thanks to all the marines at Camp Lejeune. You motivate me to give more and prepare harder.
As a Panthers fan, and most importantly as a family member of people who serve and have served in the military, I wish to thank Jon Beason for his positive influence on the community, and I thank him for taking time out of his busy off-season schedule to give back to those who give so much while going mostly unnoticed. This visit will go mostly under the radar in the major news outlets, but as far as I’m concerned it’s one of the most important stories of the off-season thus far, and it's a story that makes me extremely proud to call myself a fan of the Carolina Panthers.
We’re lucky, fellow Panthers fans. We’re lucky because we’re fortunate enough to have a group of guys that actually care about the fans who follow them, and it all starts at the top with one of our biggest leaders on defense, Jon Beason. I don’t know about you guys, but I couldn’t be prouder to be a fan of the Carolina Panthers than I am right now. It's much more refreshing to read stories like this one instead of constantly getting player updates from the local police blotter, and it's because of the example set by guys like Beason, Davis, and Gross that we're able to avoid reading endless stories of that ilk.
If you have any stories of Panthers players who you feel deserve to be recognized for giving back to their communities, please feel free to share them in the comment thread, and allow the rest of us to brag with you about our beloved Panthers and their good deeds of charity.