In my home we have a saying with regards to football season. Being from New York I am still partial to my Giants despite what might be another dismal season ahead. Living in Philly with three Eagles fans I now root for them too, except when they play against the Giants, of course. So in our house we root for the Eagles, the Giants, and whoever is playing against the Cowboys.
After all, you either love the Cowboys or you hate them. There is no in-between.
Though we are an anti-Cowboy household, I still have a deep secret respect for the Cowboys of my heyday. The guys who we see now as commentators and analysts – Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin, Daryl Johnston, and Darren Woodson. The guys that Dallas fans adored, and everyone else feared.
Woodson, a three-time Super Bowl champion and five-time Pro Bowl selection, joined ESPN as an NFL analyst shortly (as in a couple of weeks) after retiring in 2005. In addition to his work at ESPN, Woodson is involved in a number of businesses as an avid entrepreneur.
Community service is important to Woodson too. He genuinely values the opportunity he has to give back. For instance, Woodson serves on the board of the Make A Wish Foundation. He is also actively involved with the Dallas community.
And that makes him pretty awesome, despite the fact that he played for the Cowboys.
Now, Woodson has combined his love of football, his business acumen, and his passion for paying it forward. Today, he announced the launch of FanPrint.com, an ecommerce site that will sell apparel and soft-goods for NFL fans. The site will donate a portion of its proceeds to the NFL Players’ Assistance Fund. As you may or may not have heard, there has been much news lately about concussions, and about former NFL players whose lives have been permanently altered by concussions and other injuries suffered during their playing days. While currently settlement money from the NFL is tied up in litigation, these former players continue to have mounting health issues and monetary concerns.
As Woodson himself said earlier today, there are so many former players who have fallen on hard times. These are the guys who were not necessarily known as the franchise players, but perhaps those who played one or two years in the NFL before their careers were cut short by injury. When football is all you know, and suddenly your entire life’s work is cut short, it can be difficult to move forward not just physically, but emotionally too.
Woodson knew that an ecommerce platform such as FanPrint is a valuable way for fans to support their favorite players while also giving back. So in a first of its kind deal, the NFL Players Inc. (NFLPI), the marketing and licensing arm of the NFL Players Association, has linked a percentage proceeds from FanPrint sales to help former NFL players who are in need through the Gene Upshaw Players Assistance Trust Fund (GU PAT Fund).
The site is being marketed as a place for fans to interact, collect, and share the products they love. In fact, it is artistic fans who create the custom-designed graphics that are sold on the site. FanPrint recruits and works with a wide range of talented graphic artists to create original designs for current NFL players.
As FanPrint’s Director of Partnerships and one of the company’s founding investors, Woodson and FanPrint’s CEO, TK Stohlman, hope to expand the company and its concept to support other players associations in the near future.
So go ahead, and check out FanPrint. Keep going back to see all the exciting new designs that are on the way. Give back while supporting your favorite players. I sure will. Just as long as they don’t play for the Cowboys.
Images courtesy of FanPrint.com.