New York Jets WR Honored at Annual Gridiron Gala in NYC
The Jets two starting wide receivers were in the spotlight in Manhattan on Tuesday night but it had nothing to do with their pass-catching skills. Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall received awards at different galas for their ongoing work in the community.
Decker was honored at the 23rd annual Gridiron Gala staged by the United Way of New York City along with the Jets and Giants in support of the city's low-income children. Decker for the Jets and RB Rashad Jennings for the Giants were recognized as this year's "Hometown Heroes" who personify the NFL's dedication to community service.
"It's an honor to accept this award from United Way," Decker told newyorkjets.com at the New York Hilton Midtown, adding that it "means the world" to the Eric & Jessie Decker Foundation that he and his wife started and that is involved in Deckers Dogs, which helps fund the rescue, care and training of service dogs for military veterans returning home with disabilities, and in school anti-bullying efforts.
"If you can impact a group of people's lives, that makes such a ripple effect in our community and it our world," Decker said. "What we have done as far as raising dogs, giving to veterans, our anti-bullying campaign, those things that are important to us, very meaningful, and we want to make an impact where we can."
Among the guests at the Gridiron Gala were Jets legends, and none is more legendary than quarterback Joe Namath, who has been a fixture at many of the past galas.
"This does not get old," Namath said. "The United Way is wonderful in what they do for so many of the children around our city, and and to do it with the Jets and the Giants and their fans, it's a great team effort and you feel good about it. When you see these kids we're going to see tonight, for example, it makes you feel real good.
"Eric Decker is a true example of what a gentleman should be. Whether or not he's a sportsman, he's a fine human being. And Mr. Jennings with the Giants, too. We have guys on both teams that are outstanding citizens in their communities away from the field."
Not far from the Gridiron Gala, Marshall was receiving the Champion Award from The Child Mind Institute's Change Maker Awards at the Highline Ballroom in Manhattan, one of several honors presented by the organization, which is a part of the annual Speak Up for Kids campaign that celebrates mental health heroes who are improving the lives of children every day.
“I just think that whenever you have the opportunity to do preventative work and intervene earlier, you give not only our kids but our world a better chance," Marshall said of PROJECT 375, the nonprofit organization he co-founded that is dedicated to eradicating the stigma surrounding mental illness and disorders. "So we really spent three or four years trying to figure out where we want to make our mark and really spend our time because this thing presents itself in so many different ways."
"There’s a group of kids that are suffering and know they’re suffering. There’s a group of kids that suffer and that don’t know they’re suffering. There’s a group of kids suffering in silence. There’s some kids that may be in an invalidating environment. I think that when I open up and tell my story and they see the work that we’re doing, one, it’s thought-provoking; it starts the conversation.
"And then, at the same level, it hits home for a lot of those kids because they’re dealing with some of the things that I was dealing with or am dealing with now. So it’s different for every kid but the work that we’re doing and a lot of people in this community are doing is super-impactful and super-important.”
And Marshall threw some praise Decker's way, as teammates do.
“I mean, he’s just an amazing guy. He gets it," No. 15 said of No. 87. "It’s not about us. It’s never about us. It took me a while to figure that out. I think it’s a great example for all of the younger guys in our room and also the other guys in the organization and whoever’s following us across the league. It’s a great example to set.”