Share this article

print logo

Quarterback is honored for work with charities

On the field, New York Jets quarterback Chad Pennington has displayed an unrelenting desire to win.

He is tied with Joe Namath for the most playoff wins for the team. In 2006, he was the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year, and he led his team back to the playoffs.

Off the field, Pennington has a different passion -- to be a role model for children.

Because of his successes both on and off the field, he was the recipient Saturday of the sixth annual Frank Reich Call to Courage Award in the Hyatt Regency Buffalo. Hundreds of people -- including current and former Buffalo Bills and coaches -- filled the hotel's grand ballroom for the breakfast ceremony.

"It's about excellence on and off the field, and that's what Chad displays every day," said Reich, a former Bills quarterback who engineered the greatest comeback in NFL history, guiding the team to four touchdowns in less than seven minutes against the Houston Oilers, rallying the team to victory from a 35-3 deficit.

The award was established in 2002 and is sponsored by Athletes in Action, a group of Christian athletes. The organization is a "huge ministry," said Reich, noting it is represented in 85 countries.

KaJuan Lyons and Robert Johnson -- both mentors at Pentecostal Temple on Jefferson Avenue -- brought along a group of boys to the event.

"I liked it because they were talking about famous football players," said Darryl Crawford, 9, who came with his 7-year-old brother, Rameare Freeman. Lyons mentors both boys.

"We're role models. We do things together, and we encourage them to do well in school," said Johnson, who mentors 10-year-old Joshua Duson.

"This was a positive event," Johnson added. "I liked that [Pennington] talked about leadership because he is a quarterback, which you can say is the leader of the team."

Through his foundation, the 1st and 10 Foundation, Pennington is involved in a variety of philanthropic and community efforts. Also, he raises funds for leukemia research.

"A lot of athletes say they don't want to be a role model," Pennington said. "I say, 'That's tough, because you are one.' The one thing they have to do is make a decision on if they're going to be a good role model or a bad role model because children and people are looking at you every minute."

e-mail: dswilliams@buffnews.com

There are no comments - be the first to comment