Tuesday, December 4, 2007
By Brett Grassmuck
In 12 NFL seasons, La’Roi Glover has put together an impressive football resume as a six-time Pro-Bowler, team captain and a pure defensive leader.
But with all he has been able to achieve on the field, it is his accomplishments off the field that led him to be named the Rams 2007 Walter Payton Man of the Year.
“That’s huge for me,” Glover said. “You try to do good work on and off the field, and to be recognized for it means a lot. It’s a humbling award, and I’m thankful to be the recipient of that award this year.”
The Walter Payton Man of the Year award, renamed for the late Chicago Bears running back in 1999, has been given annually since 1970 and recognizes an NFL player for their on the field and off the field accomplishments.
“He’s a great leader and a great example for the younger players,” Rams coach Scott Linehan said of Glover. “I encourage (being active in the community) because it’s very important for the professional athlete to be a positive role model in the communities they play in and for the fans that attend their games. He gives back. That’s why you see guys like this get acknowledged for what they do. He’s a great recipient for this award.”
Glover entered the NFL via the fifth round of the 1996 NFL Draft when the Oakland Raiders selected him with the 166th pick, but it was long before he became a professional football player that his desire to give back to his community began.
“I remember growing up, we didn’t come from any money or anything like that,” Glover said. “Whatever my mother had, she was willing to share it with not only family members, but other folks who were less fortunate than we were. So I think that’s sort of what started it.”
The values that Dorothy Glover instilled in her son stuck with him, and led him to combine his love of football with his desire to give back.
La’Roi Glover attended youth football camps as a high school athlete and eventually became involved in youth football camps himself. His experiences eventually led to the creation of the La’Roi Glover Foundation while he was playing for the New Orleans Saints in 1999, the year he won his first “Man of the Year” and “Unsung Hero” awards.
“I was always involved with youth football camps growing up,” Glover said. “I always said if I was ever in the position, I wanted to do my own. That’s when it started in 1999 with our first La’Roi Glover free football camp in San Diego . It’s sort of just taken on a life of its own since then.”
The La’Roi Glover Foundation has grown far beyond hosting a free football camp, although that is one of the many functions of the not-for-profit organization. The foundation also distributes annual scholarships to a male and female athlete from Glover’s alma mater, Point Loma High School in San Diego .
“We provide $5,000 for each student as a scholarship to help them ease into the adjustments of paying for college,” Glover said.
Glover’s off-the-field philosophy isn’t limited to football or football camps, it expands to fit the needs of every NFL city the Pro Bowler finds himself in.
“In New Orleans , I worked with Children’s Hospital, because that’s where I felt the biggest need was then,” Glover said. “In Dallas , I just worked with various charities, a lot of different charities there.”
Since his arrival in St. Louis , Glover has wasted no time finding ways to better the St. Louis community. Last season, he hooked up with the St. Louis Area Foodbank and St. Louis Sports Commission to host the Taste of the NFL – St. Louis .
“The event that is the most fun every year is the Taste of the NFL,” Glover said. “This is an event put on by the local Foodbank that provides food for the local food pantries and tries to feed folks in need. The event in itself is great because you have some of the best restaurants in the local area cooking their signature dishes for the event. If you love to eat and you love fine wines and good spirits, that’s why I chose and kind of threw myself into that particular event.”
Along with hosting the Taste of the NFL, La’Roi also purchased a suite at the Edward Jones Dome and hosted children at each of the Rams home games last season.
Glover continued to build on his community efforts this season as he became involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri not only as a big brother, but also was involved with their “Tackle the Issues” campaign, designed to bring in new mentors and volunteers to Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Glover was once again the host of the Taste of the NFL, and he yet again purchased a suite, this time to host other Big Brothers and Big Sisters along with their “littles” at each Rams home game.
“The Big Brothers, Big Sisters program has been great,” Glover said. “This is the first year that I have been a part of it. But there are a lot of young kids who sort of need a big brother in their walk in life. So that event has been exciting as well for me.”
If that wasn’t enough, Glover will host 100 children from Big Brothers Big Sisters at the Russell Training Center in December where he will give them a tour, provide them with $100 gift cards and take them on a shopping spree to ensure they have a nice holiday season.
“There isn’t a better guy than La’Roi to receive an award like this,” Linehan said. “He’s very, very deserving of it. Congrats to Glove on that one.”
As much as his family motivated him to great things as a child, the family he has built as an adult continues to be his inspiration.
“It’s all about priority,” Glover said. “You have your time for football, you make time for family and then you make time for your other endeavors, and I wouldn’t trade it. I wouldn’t change a thing.”
La’Roi is not the only member of the Glover family that is involved in the community. His wife, Spring, has been involved with a number of her own charitable initiatives including chairing a back to school shopping store for underprivileged children alongside her husband.
“My wife is involved with a lot of different charities with a lot of the different players’ wives,” Glover said. “She’s a part of the NFL wives association as well, and they do a lot of charity events all around the country with different players’ wives. So I think we’re all trying to do as much as we can for our community.”
The St. Louis Rams brought Glover in to improve the defensive line, little did they know he would improve the St. Louis community as well.