By Kate Arhar // @ClvlndK8
What is your “Why?” That is the question Cleveland Browns linebacker Christian Kirksey asked his teammates during training camp. It became a highlight of this season’s edition of the HBO series Hard Knocks.
And part of his “Why?” has always been combining football with community service, giving back to those who helped him and being a role model for our youth.
Originally drafted by the Browns in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft, Kirksey has become a leader in the locker room and a real presence in the community. His Kirkoland Foundation was established to help children, both in Cleveland where he plays and in St. Louis, Missouri, where he was born and raised.
In the announcement from the Browns, Dee Haslam said “Since Christian was drafted in 2014, he has been an incredible influence and provided a positive energy for our team and building, as well as throughout the entire Cleveland community. It is special to see how he has grown on and off the field during his time with the Browns as he has clearly become an exceptional role model for his teammates, our city and most importantly, the youth he inspires.”
General Manager John Dorsey echoed her sentiments: “High character and putting others before yourself are attributes we look for in the individuals that make up the Cleveland Browns. There is no man that has played in this league that exemplifies those qualities more than Walter Payton, and Christian should be very proud of the work he does off the field that makes him so deserving of this most prestigious honor.”
Help @Kirko58 earn $25,000 to donate to a charity of his choice!
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) December 6, 2018
It’s especially meaningful to Kirksey to be nominated for this award because he looked up to Walter Payton as a youngster. He started his football career as a running back and would watch tons of film on Payton and Barry Sanders. Luckily for Browns fans, one of his coaches suggested he make the move to linebacker!
Being voted as a team captain for this season’s Browns, Kirksey expressed how humbling it is to be viewed as a leader by his teammates. He’s always tried to be the kind of person that people can look up to. He has focused his efforts in the community towards working with children and troubled youths. His five year tenure here, one of the longest, helps bring consistency to both the on- and off-the-field activities.
In his efforts to try and bring recognition to football players as people too, he has worked on many social injustice initiatives in the area, including neighborhood unity and equality summits representing the team. He has also been involved with Towards Employment, an organization that assists people enter the job force after incarceration.
If you are inclined to vote on these kind of things, please make your voice heard! Nationwide, the presenting sponsor of the award, will execute the third annual Charity Challenge. Fans are encouraged to post #WPMOYChallenge and their favorite nominee’s last name on social media between December 6th to January 13th. The nominee who receives the most hashtag mentions will win an additional $25,000 donation to his charity of choice from Nationwide, the runner-up will receive $10,000 and the third-place winner will receive $5,000.
Talk Browns football with Kate on Twitter // @ClvlndK8