But Anquan Boldin, one of the leading receivers in the league after 14 seasons, is no longer among them.
Last Sunday, two weeks after signing with the Buffalo Bills, Boldin announced his retirement, stating, “My life’s purpose is bigger than football.”
Boldin, the 2015 Walter Payton Man of the Year and 14th on the all-time receiving yards list, has been a friend to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA, www.fca.org). He was featured in FCA Magazine, where he told his story about growing up in Pahokee, Florida, and how he took his role as a locker room leader seriously.
“I think faith has a tremendous way of shaping the locker room,” Boldin told FCA. “At the end of the day with this game, we’ll be judged by wins and losses. But when we look at the bigger picture, we’ll be judged on how effective we were in the locker room. How many lives did we change? How many people did we influence?”
Boldin’s magazine story also detailed how Boldin never forgot the hardships of his fellow athletes back in Pahokee, where football sometimes literally serves as a “get out of jail free” card. Through the Anquan Boldin Foundation, which aims to expand the educational and life opportunities of underprivileged youth, he has set out to change Pahokee’s fortunes through academics, enrichment and family and community engagement. Boldin’s foundation organizes food drives and shopping sprees, hosts events for children and awards academic scholarships.
“I get more out of giving than the people I help,” Boldin said. “To see the smiles on people’s faces, that alone brings me joy.”
According to the Washington Post, Boldin was moved to announce his retirement by the recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the nationwide unrest that followed.
“Football in its purest form is what we all strive for as a nation,” Boldin said in his retirement statement. “People from all different races, religions and backgrounds working together for one shared goal. The core values taught in football are some of the most important you can learn in life. To always be there for the guy next to you and not let your fellow man down. You do whatever it takes to make sure your brother is OK. Football has afforded me a platform throughout my career to have a greater impact on my humanitarian work. At this time, I feel drawn to make the larger fight for human rights a priority.”
It’s interesting to see how people evolve when they discover faith.