WASHINGTON, D.C. – Benjamin Watson has been named Week 17 NFLPA Community MVP for donating and raising more than $100,000 for 15 charitable organizations through his “Freedom Friday” campaign during the 2018 NFL season.
“With so many players working for the betterment of their communities, it is an honor to be named NFLPA Community MVP this week,” Watson said. “As a husband, father, teammate and citizen, my mission is to use the time, talent and treasure God has given me to love and serve those in need, be a voice for the voiceless, and stand for justice and truth.”
In September, the New Orleans Saints tight end launched “Freedom Friday,” where he and his foundation, One More, pledged to donate $5,000 to 15 charities that he has previously partnered with during his 15-year career. Along with making his monetary contribution every Friday, Watson used his social media channels to encourage others to give and volunteer with that week’s organization. By the time the campaign ended on Dec. 28, he had helped raise more than $100,000 in support.
The honored non-profits included All-Pro Dad, which encourages men to be great fathers; International Justice Mission, the world’s largest anti-slavery/human trafficking organization; Boot Campaign, which provides life-improving programs for military families; and World Vision, a Christian organization working to help communities lift themselves out of poverty for good.
“Thank you for supporting me as well as our entire player membership in all of our efforts to make a difference,” said Watson, who serves on the NFLPA’s Executive Committee. “Each of these organizations are tirelessly working to free people from physical, emotional and spiritual bondage, removing seen and unseen obstacles so that they have the freedom to reach their potential.”
Last month, Watson announced that this would be his final NFL season. In his 15 years, he has made a tremendous impact on and off the field. His One More foundation serves as a vehicle to carry the hope and love of Jesus Christ to those who need it most while also working to meet their physical needs. In December, he hosted his 10th annual Big BENefit event, which provides holiday gifts and a surprise dinner for 25-30 underserved families. And Watson has continually poured his passion for others into community work through countless avenues, including the 15 charities recognized during his Freedom Friday campaign.
In honor of Watson being named this week’s Community MVP, the NFLPA will make a $10,000 contribution to his foundation or charity of choice along with an in-kind donation to him on behalf of our supporting partner Delta Private Jets. A limited-edition bobblehead will also be made of Watson and sold by our supporting partner Forever Collectibles at foco.com. The NFLPA will donate part of the proceeds from this collector’s item to their charity or foundation of choice.
The NFLPA is also proud to partner with Life is Good, the original positive lifestyle apparel brand, to showcase athletes whose values align with the brand’s commitment to growing the good in their communities and helping those in need. In January 2019, Life is Good will further advance the MVPs’ worthy causes with the Life is Good x NFLPA commemorative T-shirt collection at LifeisGood.com and Fanatics.com. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to each player’s charity or foundation of choice.
Watson, along with the other 2018 Community MVPs, will become eligible for this year’s Alan Page Community Award, which is the highest honor that the NFLPA can bestow upon a player.
The NFLPA Community MVP program recognizes NFL players who are making a positive impact in their local communities. Each week during the regular season, the NFLPA will celebrate one NFL player who has demonstrated a commitment to giving back to his community. Please visit our website to read more about the program as well as the current and past winners.
2018 NFLPA Community MVP winners*:
Week 0: Tyrann Mathieu, Houston Texans
Week 1: Melvin Gordon, L.A. Chargers
Week 2: Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs
Week 3: Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs
Week 4: Damon Harrison, New York Giants
Week 5: Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles
Week 6: Kelvin Beachum, New York Jets
Week 7: Devin & Jason McCourty, New England Patriots
Week 8: Kareem Jackson, Houston Texans
Week 9: Chris Carson, Seattle Seahawks
Week 10: Andrew Whitworth, L.A. Rams
Week 11: Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
Week 12: Von Miller, Denver Broncos
Week 13: Ben Garland, Atlanta Falcons
Week 14: Gerald McCoy, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Week 15: Geno Atkins, Cincinnati Bengals
Week 16: Devin Funchess, Carolina Panthers
Week 17: Benjamin Watson, New Orleans Saints
*Teams listed indicate player’s club when he was honored
About the NFL Players Association:
The National Football League Players Association is the union for professional football players in the National Football League. Established in 1956, the NFLPA has a long history of assuring proper recognition and representation of players’ interests. The NFLPA has shown that it will do whatever is necessary to assure that the rights of players are protected—including ceasing to be a union, if necessary, as it did in 1989. In 1993, the NFLPA again was officially recognized as the union representing the players, and negotiated a landmark Collective Bargaining Agreement with the NFL. The current CBA will govern the sport through 2020. Learn more at www.nflpa.com.
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