On Tuesday, Redskins receiver Antwaan Randle El joined 150 volunteers including 70 Home Depot employees on their day off to help build a new playground for the General Heiser Boys & Girls Club in DC. The build was part of the National Neighborhood MVP Program sponsored by Home Depot in partnership with Kaboom! Home Depot selected Antwaan to be one of only 17 NFL players to be named a neighborhood MVP because of his work with his foundation, the El Foundation.
This play ground was part of a $25 million commitment Home Depot made to Kaboom!to help build 1000 play spaces in 1000 days. Kaboom!is a DC based charity that has built hundreds of play spaces in poorly served areas across the country. The Neighborhood MVP program is part of this commitment and it allows Home Depot to recognize NFL players and help them give back even more to their communities. Antwaan took some time out from his busy day to talk to the Rag about how he got involved with Home Depot, “They selected me for what I already do in the community but once I heard about it, I was really gung ho to do it. Growing up, I had parks and stuff to play in, but they weren’t very nice. They weren’t safe. I never had the opportunity to play somewhere nice. We fixed this one up so it is really nice.”
Starting on Thanksgiving weekend, Redskins fans will have the opportunity to help Antwaan give back even more to the District. That is when Home Depot will open up the voting for Neighborhood MVP of the Year. The winner will be selected by online voting (www.homedepot.com/nfl) and will receive $25,000 dollars for the charity of his choice.
If Antwaan wins, he plans on giving the money to his own charitable foundation, The El Foundation, which he formed with his brother Curtis. “The EL stands for everlasting love,” he said, ”We target underprivileged kids and the elderly. Those are the two times in your life you need the most help. So we try to reach out to people when they need it the most.”
The competition should be stiff with major NFL stars such as John Lynch, Kurt Warner, Warrick Dunn, and Hines Ward all being named MVP in their communities. The Rag asked Antwaan specifically about what he thought of former teammate Hines Ward’s chances and whether he thought his Redskins fans would be more supportive than his old Steeler fans: “We’ve got a shot. This is their [Redskins fans] chance to root me on and show their support. But you know, it isn’t about the competition. It’s about helping people.”
Of course, the Rag has a different opinion. Helping people is good, but showing that Redskins fans are the best fans in the world while helping people is even better. And in case you need more incentive to get online and vote, Roy Williams and Brian Dawkins are also in the competition. Personally, I’d be happy if Williams and Dawkins quit football to concentrate more on playground building.
Of course, as hard as Antwaan was working, he still had football on his mind, and I got to ask him a couple of quick questions about the team and the upcoming game with the Jets. Unfortunately, he hadn’t seen film of the Jets yet so he couldn’t give me any hints of the game plan or what he thought of new Jets rookie CB Derrelle Revis. But he did sound off on why Jason Campbell is going to be the Redskins QB for a long, long time.
“He’s the real deal,” Antwaan said, “He just doesn’t get rattled. He’s got so much poise and confidence. He’s always calm and he expects to win. He demands winning so you are ready to go out there and win for him.”
After our conversation, I was ready to help Antwaan win MVP of the year, and ready to help Kaboom! meet its goals as well. I’m going to be putting up the link on the site so you guys remember where to go to vote. And I’m also hoping you will go check out the Kaboom! site. They’re doing good work, and we can all pitch in to help.
Oh, one more thing I felt I should save for last. I asked Antwaan whether we were going to win on Sunday. He had a quick, emphatic answer: “You know it. We’re going to take it to ‘em.”
Sounds good to me. Thanks Antwaan and hail Skins!