Andrew Whitworth: The Importance of a Positive Role Model

Andrew Whitworth: The Importance of a Positive Role Model


Andrew Whitworth received the NFL’s most coveted award: The Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award for 2021. This award honors a player’s commitment to philanthropy and community impact, as well as his excellence on the field.

All 32 NFL teams nominate one player from their respective team and the NFL selects one winner each year. Last year, Whitworth was selected. Whitworth was finishing in his 16th and final season. In his final game, his team, the Los Angeles Rams, won the Super Bowl. But, what separated Whitworth was his focus on charity. He helps the military, the homeless, hurricane victims and underprivileged children.

During his acceptance speech, Whitworth discussed the impact that he had on a stranger early in his playing days. The following interaction happened on the football field, which was the direct result of his time as a mentor with the Boys and Girls Club early in his playing career.  Please watch:

Joe’s Perspective – The Importance of a Positive Role Model: By all accounts, Andrew Whitworth is a high-character guy who has centered his life around community service and helping people. Derrick Barnes is one of those people. Fifteen years ago, he was not Derrick Barnes, future NFL player. He was just Derrick Barnes, poor kid from the projects who needed a positive role model. Whitworth sat and talked with Derek in the same caring way that he probably talked with hundreds of kids just like him over the last two decades. For Derrick, those moments were life-changing: “He always told me how important school was, that school gets you a long way,” stated Derrick. “Block out all the distractions, even when you don’t think can go no more.” Messages like these, helped Derrick make something of himself.

Joe’s Perspective – Paying It Forward: Derrick never forgot those moments, and now he provides the same kinds of talks with underprivileged kids in Detroit. Derek currently volunteers at the Boys and Girls Club in Detroit, hoping to make a similar impact: “I want to be on that stage one day and share a story of what I did to help a little kid.”

Your Turn: What lessons do you take from this story?

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  1. I think that they never knew they would see each other again but what they did that day both changed their lives and the future on many others

  2. The lesson I took away from this story is to always give back to your community. Don’t just let things be the way you remember them, go be the way they remember you.

  3. It has taught me to work as a team when you are in a group. You can also use them when you play a sport like Football. Like I do. It is also a very nice thing to do is have a positive attitude.