- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer
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In the past week, one NFL player has been convicted of drunken driving (D.J. Williams of the Broncos) and another has been arrested for allegedly head-butting his wife (Chad Johnson, formerly of the Dolphins).
Then there is Steelers outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley, who is making headlines off the field for the right reason. Woodley donated $60,000 to cover participation fees so every student in the Saginaw, Mich., public school system has the opportunity to play sports.
Why did Woodley do this? Not for notoriety. He wasn't at the announcement in Michigan holding one of those oversized checks. There wasn't a news conference at training camp or even a news release distributed to Steelers reporters.
It came down to Woodley living up to the responsibility of paying it forward. "People helped me out along the way," he said. "I'm just doing my job giving back to my hometown."
Woodley said he wants to donate money every year if the school district is in need. He acknowledged that he doesn't know whether his family would've been able to afford the new $75 fee to participate in sports.
"For kids to lose out on an opportunity to maybe earn a scholarship or learn about playing team ball ... to miss out on that because your family can't afford $75 was going to be tough," Woodley said. "I wasn't going to sit back and allow that to happen."
This isn't the first time that Woodley has helped out his hometown. In January, the linebacker donated 100 hooded sweatshirts to the high school's "Mighty Marchin' Trojan Band" before it performed at halftime of the Sugar Bowl between Michigan and Virginia Tech. He has also organized a back-to-school charity event in Saginaw later this month, when he will provide school-age boys with school supplies, haircuts, food and more before the start of the school year.
"He understands he has a responsibility of being LaMarr Woodley," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. "I complimented him on it. That's a man that took $60,000 and provided potentially a lifetime of opportunity. If there is one kid that didn't get an opportunity to play sports and does ... Imagine if he goes on to get an athletic scholarship, how much that $60,000 has helped someone."