Many Jacksonville Jaguars fans were relieved when temperamental cornerback Jalen Ramsey showed up for practice on Wednesday.
Warrick Dunn also showed up for work, and he did it without any fanfare.
Ramsey is the latest in a long line of self-absorbed, self-entitled professional athletes who believe they are more important than their teams or the game itself. And too often, we spend more time either consoling or condemning their tantrums. In Ramsey’s case, he wants to be traded because he doesn’t feel “respected” by upper management. I guess he hasn’t watched replays of this selfish tirade against head coach Doug Marrone two weeks ago when the coach didn’t challenge a 3-yard reception by the Houston Texans. His rant on national television was the epitome of disrespect.
What’s troubling is we continue to spend too much time on brats like Ramsey, Antonio Brown and Colin Kaepernick. They all suck the position energy out of the room.
And while we are dwelling on what’s wrong with professional sports, we are distracted from others who are doing the right thing.
The former running back with Florida State, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Atlanta Falcons already has given away more than 168 homes – 145 in the Tampa and Atlanta areas – to single-parent families. He gave away $800,000 to help needy family make down payments on new homes when he was a rookie with the Bucs in 1997. That evolved into a mission to give away homes to honor his mother, Betty Smothers, who was ambushed and killed while escorting a woman to make a night deposit. Dunn was 18 when his mother, a police officer, was killed.
He used her life insurance to buy homes for his younger brothers and sisters.
Now he’s working tirelessly to fulfill the dreams of others.
In 2007, Dunn’s charitable foundation partnered with Habitat for Humanity to refurbish a home in Gainesville, Ga., for a single mother with four children.
One of those children, DeShawn Watson, now is the starting quarterback for the Texans.
“We were in government housing,” Watson told The Associated Press. “I felt grown having my own room. Just having my own bed, not really being squished, not really worrying about someone sneaking up on me. It was a great moment, a special moment.”
Watson’s mother, Deann Watson, put 200 hours of sweat equity into the build.
“We're helping people who are helping themselves,” Dunn said. “It’s crazy how much pride people have when it’s something they work for and not something they’re given.”
Watson now volunteers time and donates money to Habitat for Humanity. He also gave his first game check in 2017 as a rookie – $27,353 – to three women who worked at the stadium cafeteria who were deeply affected by Hurricane Harvey.
Watson’s teammate, defensive end JJ Watt, helped raise $37 million for relief efforts following Harvey. Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz operates a food truck that gives away meals to those in need.
Defensive back Richard Sherman’s foundation has paid for school supplies to more than 10,000 children in Los Angeles.
And in Jacksonville, defensive back A.J. Bouye, who lost his mother to brain and breast cancer, is a member of the American Cancer Society’s Athlete Council.
Despite his current issues, Ramsey also has shown a redeeming side of his personality by giving $10,000 to the North Florida division of the Boys and Girls Club.
While many are consumed by constant controversy, I choose to grab a hammer and help those who are making a difference. The sound of people rebuilding their lives is far more rewarding than a lot of the noise coming out of sports these days.