The NFL takes a lot of well-deserved heat for its players making the wrong kinds of headlines far too often. Sadly, the bad press often overshadows the many positive stories that could and should be written.
Chad Ochocinco has always been a guy who has stumbled back and forth across the tenuous line between troublemaking diva and well-meaning entertainer during his up and down NFL career. He’s never gotten into trouble off the field, but he certainly has caused locker room issues that have made him a Queen City headache for Marvin Lewis on more than one occasion.
Today, we recognize the “good” Chad, because he recently did what you hope to see people in his position do: bring joy and opportunity to those less fortunate, in this case Ruben St. Hilaire, his #1 fan.
If you don’t have time to watch the entire video, this post about Ochocinco and Hilaire from Shutdown Corner (who I tip my hat to for posting this) provides the background.
Nine-year-old Ruben St. Hilaire, Jr, who lives with this mother in a homeless shelter in New York City, received an autographed jersey from Ochocinco after sending a letter. He then sent a second letter that would have melted the heart of the hardest individual.
If you watch the video, Ruben reads the letter on stage. In it, he mentions that his heroes are his mom, “Mr. President Barack Obama”, and Ochocinco.
Ruben’s dream was to go to a football camp, and that particular prize was donated by Deion Sanders. Presenting the certificate for camp attendance, unbeknownst to Ruben, would be the very same Mr. Ochocinco.
What is neat is to see the genuine smiles on Ochocinco’s face as he hears Ruben talk about him. You can tell how much the moment means not only to Ruben, but to Chad as well. It is really neat to see.
When Ochocinco comes out, Ruben is almost too surprised to react. But at the very of the end of video, when Ruben says that this is the best of his life, you can see just how much meeting his hero meant.
I am sure that many, many NFL players and other professional athletes to things like this every day. We don’t always hear about them, and stories like this will always be overshadowed by stories of arrests, PEDs, contract disputes, and the like, but I firmly believe that there are more good guys than bad guys who play professional sports, and it’s important not to let judgments get clouded too much by what gets reported in the media. Just because a certain type of story sells more newspapers doesn’t mean we should use it to generalize an entire sport.
The NFL has its issues, plenty of them, and Roger Goodell has been steadfast in trying to address the problem. But the NFL also has a lot of guys like Chad Ochocinco who go out of their way to make the lives of others better.
Kudos to you Chad for giving us a really compelling reason to remember that and for giving young Ruben a memory he’ll remember forever.