Fans of NFC North teams might be aware of the Griese-Hutchinson-Woodson fundraising weekend, which includes a gala and a golf outing to benefit the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital. The headliners include former Minnesota Vikings guard Steve Hutchinson and Green Bay Packers cornerback Charles Woodson, both of whom played at Michigan along with former NFL quarterback Brian Griese.
Based on local reports, it sounds as if another NFC North player made a really nice charitable gesture during the Saturday auction. Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford bid $15,000 for a gift that included six tickets to the Lions' Oct. 22 game against the Chicago Bears on ESPN's "Monday Night Football," according to Angelique S. Chengelis of the Detroit News.
Stafford had already donated the tickets to the event and, along with his girlfriend Kelly Hall, had been sitting with a girl named Faith Falzone, who is scheduled to have surgery this week. Stafford plans to give the tickets to Falzone and her family.
In a text message to the News, Stafford said: "They have been through so much in the past couple years, and to see how much they all supported each other and faith through their tough times was really inspiring. I wanted to give them something they could really be excited about and something I know they deserved."
Hutchinson was particularly moved by Stafford's commitment to being involved in the Michigan community. Stafford is from Texas and played at Georgia.
"Let's be honest," said Hutchinson, who is now with the Tennessee Titans. "The state of Michigan hasn't gone through the greatest times with the economy and the jobs around here. To have a guy that's from Georgia get drafted by the Lions and be a very integral part of that team turning their franchise around and then to be able to come to a U-M event that he has no affiliation with and donate $15,000 and buy his own tickets that he donated and then give them to a family whose daughter is going to have surgery in the next couple days here ... you couldn't write a better fictional story if you had to."
This is not to single out Stafford as the only charitable player in our division. As we've noted before, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson donated $1 million to the University of Oklahoma last month. Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh has pledged more than $2 million to the University of Nebraska. And Woodson hasgiven $2 million to the Michigan children's hospital that benefited from this weekend's efforts.
But impact comes in all shapes, sizes and denominations. Stafford's gift will no doubt leave an intense impression on one family, giving it something to look forward to and cherish for some time.