The Oakland Raiders are off to their best start in over 10 years and they are the buzz of the NFL. Recently, they traveled to Mexico City and won a close game against the Houston Texans. The Raiders got back in the early morning hours of Tuesday, before Thanksgiving, and by Tuesday night they were out in front of the team’s facility, feeding over 250 families Thanksgiving meals. This is truly a thoughtful act of kindness and especially great to see a team doing this after a long trip home on their day off. This is the third year in a row that the Raiders have fed over 250 families in the Oakland area.
The event was initiated by the Raiders’ offensive lineman, Donald Penn, who started this tradition 10 years ago, when he was with the Tampa Bay Bucs. “You’ve got to understand, I was a big kid growing up,” said Penn, the Raiders’ veteran left tackle. “Thanksgiving was always a good meal for me.” His love of the holiday and desire to give back merged when he and fellow rookie offensive linemen, David Joseph and Jeremy Trueblood, came up with the idea. “We were all trying to find a way where we could impact the community,” Penn said. “As an offensive line, you’re only as good as the next person. We thought about doing something as a group.”
Hopefully, more NFL teams will take notice of this amazingly kind act that the Oakland Raiders have displayed this Thanksgiving. A lot of the times, in professional sports, there are a lot of negative things surrounding athletes, but in the Raiders case they are able to take their stardom and feed underprivileged families that otherwise would not have had a meal. Penn has taken the initiative every year, since he got in the NFL, to make sure that needy families have a nice big meal on Thanksgiving, no matter what city he is in. Other Raiders have taken notice of this extreme generosity and it has prompted them to want to do more. There are now talks that the team will be doing something very similar for Christmas this year.
The families the Raiders have helped this Thanksgiving will surely never forget what Penn and his teammates have done for them this holiday. It makes me think, ‘Why doesn't the NFL as a whole do something like this across the whole league?’ I think it would be amazing if each team could collaborate and come up with some type of friendly competition to prompt players to give more and use their influence in a positive way. Penn is quick to point out how blessed he’s been by his NFL career, which recently saw him make his 150th NFL start, the second-longest active streak among offensive linemen. “I’ve been starting at the bottom, worked my way up,” Penn said. “I hope people look at it as an example. Don’t ever count yourself out. I was one of them low, low free agents, like a $5,000 signing bonus free agent, and I worked my way up. Hopefully guys coming up look at that and just take it as motivation.”