They are often called field generals because football quarterbacks are responsible for leading their teammates on the gridiron in tandem with executing their own roles. But there is little doubt that quarterbacks are also the leading role models because of their high visibility.
The NFL has produced many quarterbacks who used their “Jersey Effect” to benefit others. Two players who wore #15—Jack Kemp and Bart Starr—both retired after playing their last full season in 1970. A year later, Archie Manning began his NFL career while raising two, future Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks.
These three men are among the best to ever play the game, yet each is equally well known for how they led their lives off the field. Jack Kemp went from the Buffalo Bills to the United States Congress. He then went onto the cabinet where he championed economic opportunity and affordable housing among other ways to improve society.
Archie Manning was a legend at Ole Miss before giving Saints fans someone to cheer for during their difficult, early seasons. While national TV networks often capture Archie and his wife Olivia in the stands watching their sons quarterback the Colts and Giants, less attention has been received by his 16-year presence in sweltering mid-July Louisiana. Every year, he spends three solid days with his sons Cooper, Peyton and Eli teaching thousands of high school boys how to throw, how to catch and about character.
While the camp was Peyton’s idea, Archie was inspired by the example of former college coach Bobby Bowden. “Bobby said the thing he liked about the camp was it gave the best opportunity all year to spend time with the family, especially…his sons,” said Archie. “That’s exactly how it worked out for me.”
Bart Starr was so respected as a man of integrity that an award is given in his name each year to the NFL player who best exemplifies outstanding character and leadership in the home, on the field and in the community. The Bart Starr Award is presented to honorees at a breakfast sponsored by Athletes in Action at each year’s Super Bowl.
Starr was the Most Valuable Player in the first two Super Bowls won by his Packers. Moreover, his coach is memorialized by the Super Bowl’s Lombardi Trophy. The quarterback’s legacy has only grown since hanging up his spikes. He and wife Cherry co-founded Rawhide Boys Ranch, a place for troubled youth in New London, Wis., in 1966 and have been heavily involved in the ranch for more than 40 years. Such selflessness earned him the NFL’s inaugural Byron White Award for service to team and beyond.
This tradition will continue when the Hall of Famer bestows the 24th Bart Starr Award to Washington Redskins linebacker London Fletcher in Indianapolis. Every NFL team nominates one player to be considered for the award, and the top ten are selected on their record of community service and tenure in the NFL. The finalists are then placed on the ballot and voted on by all the players.
A Lasting Legacy - Indianapolis Style
Q&A: Indianapolis Sports Strategy
Visionary Community Development Plan Earns Legacy Project
Indianapolis' Rx for Building a Better Community: Volunteers
Sports & Character
The Jersey Effect
Uncommon: Finding Your Path to Significance
Tim Tebow's Role Model
The Butler Way
From Hardscrabble Indy to the Super Bowl
From Leading the Nation in Foreclosures to Leading Edge Solutions
Building with a Purpose: Holistic Redevelopment in the Meadows
Extreme Home Makeover: Neighborhood Edition
The Big Scrum: How Teddy Roosevelt Saved Football
Sports on the Silver Screen
Indy's First Sports Strategy