IOWA CITY, Iowa — This holiday season, several members of the Iowa Hawkeye football team gave back to local communities in ways that weren't possible for players in years past.
“You know during the year I have gotten choked up a couple times. Those guys right there are a good snapshot of our football team,” said Iowa Head Coach Kirk Ferentz.
The Hawkeyes have been a model of teamwork on the field this season. That same chemistry fans saw on the field can also be seen in their communities. It comes down to putting others first.
Punter Tory Taylor is a fan-favorite. The name, image and likeness deal wasn’t an option for him to profit from due to NCAA rules on international players, but he could have the profits go directly to a non-profit.
"The whole NIL thing didn't appeal to me at first, it was one of those things that if I could sell four or five t shirts, make a couple hundred bucks and send it off to charity then so be it," Taylor said. "I think they ended up selling close to two or three thousand t-shirts."
A couple thousand shirts turned into $11,000 dollars for Count the Kicks, a non-profit that works to prevent stillbirths.
"Tory is like from a different planet. Just to such a fresh approach to everything and we talk about all those issues in college football or all these things that are going on, and he’s like 'you know just this is a pretty good deal' he thinks it's pretty neat,” said Ferentz.
Taylor wasn’t the only one on the team to change lives
"It really puts life into perspective. You know we're worried about how we're going to block a one technique and they're fighting for their life. So you know, just kind of seeing the bigger picture is important,” said Tyler Linderbaum.
Three years ago, Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum visited the Stead Family Children’s Hospital at the University of Iowa, and that memory stuck with him.
"If you would've told me in high school that I would donate $30,000 to a children’s hospital, I'd probably say you're crazy, and be like 'maybe like a 100 bucks,'" Linderbaum said. "It's absolutely insane and that's what you love about college sports and all the impacts us players have on the community."
The communities can see the positive impacts these players have and so can the head coach.
"The donations those guys have made—and we've had several guys not just those two—doing things to help other people, that's really good to see," Ferentz said. "They are good quality people and I think they understand it's good to give up yourself too not just take."
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