Earlier this week, The NFL Players Association (NFLPA) held a press conference in downtown Atlanta, Georgia ahead of Super Bowl LIII. Los Angeles Rams left tackle, Andrew Whitworth, was honored with the Alan Page Community (APC) MVP award – the highest honor the NFLPA can give to a player. Throughout the regular season, the NFLPA recognizes one player each week that demonstrates a commitment to bettering their community. Each weekly winner then becomes eligible for the APC Award given by the NFLPA at the end of the season.
On the evening of November 7th, 2018 a gunman took the lives of 12 people at Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, California – just a few miles from the home of the Whitworth family. Less that 24 hours later, that same community would be asked to evacuate their home due to a wildfire. It was a tough week for many, and Whitworth decided he wanted to help. In true Alan Page fashion, Withworth decided he could’t sit back and wait for a resolution, he needed to be part of the resolution. That week, Whitworth decided to donate his entire game check to the Ventura County Community Foundation’s Conejo Valley Victims Fund. He would also auction his game jersey to benefit the American Red Cross. The APC award comes with a $100,000- donation that will go to Withworth’s Big Whit 77 Foundation, allowing Andrew to continue giving back. He was unable to be in attendance for the conference as his Rams are preparing for the Super Bowl, but his amazing family was there on his behalf to accept the award. “This means a lot to our family,” Melissa Whitworth said, “but not as much as it’s about the community of Thousand Oaks. I’ve never been through anything quite like the month of November in Southern California.” She thanked the firefighters who showed up try and save everyone else’s houses while their own homes were also in danger.
Aside from recognizing one of the NFL’s greatest individuals, the NFLPA fielded a barrage of questions, mostly pertaining to the looming lockout in 2021. NFLPA President, Eric Winston, and Executive Director, DeMaurice Smith, appear confident that the Players Associate is much more prepared this time around. They went on to explain that while they always preach about saving money, they have stressed it even more with the potential lockout on the horizon. They understand that simply asking guys to save their money doesn’t always work so for years they have been educating players on specifically what a lockout means and what they can do to prepare. Winston went on to explain that a few years ago the players agreed to defer their “Madden checks” just in case a holdout actually happened. The money the players make from Madden is small compared to their salaries, but over a few years it will add up. It also helps get players in the habit of saving.
Smith referenced a “war chest” of money that the players have accumulated this time around. In 2011, many guys were not prepared and didn’t even know what a lockout was. That will not be the case this time around. “Look, the best preparation for a war is when you never have to fight,” Smith said. “But it doesn’t mean you don’t have to prepare for one.”
The NFLPA also received a few questions in regards to CBD – a cannabis compound. Winston and the association made it clear that they didn’t feel it was a singular issue and that the answer lied much deeper than a surface question could ever unveil. Whether it’s a prescription pill or CBD, the NFLPA doesn’t believe a player should just be given a temporary fix any time they are in pain. If a player is in pain, the solution lies within what caused the pain. Too many practices? Too many games? Bad technique? Steps should be taken to prevent the pain long before anything is prescribed for the pain. From there, a better future can be provided.
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