NFL Nation: Don Davis
|Bob Falcetti/Icon SMI|
|Je'Rod Cherry won three Super Bowl rings with the Patriots.|
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
Je'Rod Cherry was oblivious to the fact he was poor until he was in the second grade. That's when his family moved from North Carolina to cultured and progressive Berkeley, Calif.
"I grew up wearing Toughskins and kids used to pick on me," said Cherry, who played nine seasons in the NFL. "I used to say, 'I'm going to grow up and be a football player and get all these things.'
"Well, I got all those things and thought, 'This is it?'"
The moment that summed up Cherry's restlessness is considered the most joyous moment in New England Patriots history. The special-teams ace anxiously watched from the same sideline as Tom Brady and Willie McGinest and Troy Brown and Bill Belichick while Adam Vinatieri kicked the 48-yard field goal to win the franchise's first Super Bowl.
The last of the confetti hadn't flittered to the turf before a curbing realization struck Cherry.
"I thought there would be a sense of completeness by winning the Super Bowl," Cherry said. "There definitely was a sense of accomplishment, but the sense of completeness didn't last a millisecond.
"I could see the confetti dropping, and then I thought, 'Man, there's got to be more.' There was no sense of fulfillment. You want to do it again. You have to do it again."
The symbol of ultimate victory is the championship ring. Cherry won three of them with the Patriots. None brought total satisfaction, not like he guessed.
Maybe that's what happens when you ripen in a place like Berkeley. You become highly introspective and philosophical about life. You consider the merits of unconventional thought to the point there's a healthy chance somebody eventually will consider you kooky.
|Kaitlyn Montagna/Celebrities for Charity|
|Je'Rod Cherry and his wife, Samua, hope to raise $200,000 by raffling off one of his Super Bowl rings.|
All of Cherry's distinctive life experiences have come together for Thanksgiving. Molded by his upbringing, influenced by his three Super Bowl victories and inspired by his profound religious beliefs, Cherry is making what many would consider the ultimate sporting sacrifice.
Cherry on Thanksgiving -- against the wishes of some adamant he keep it -- will raffle off his first Super Bowl ring, the one that started a dynasty, to raise money for several charities: Asia's Hope, Boston for Africa, Feed My Starving Children, the Italian Home for Children and the Celebrities for Charity Foundation.
Cherry wants to build orphanages in Thailand and Cambodia to save children from the sex trafficking that's common there. He also wants to feed poverty-stricken children in Massachusetts and Ohio, where he splits his time.
"He has a bigger purpose, and Super Bowl rings are just stuff," said Don Davis, who played special teams alongside Cherry with the Patriots and New Orleans Saints. "To most it might sound crazy, but he's got three of them.
"It's a great tribute to what kind of man he is. He's willing to show the world all that stuff is meaningless."
Cherry said that by Monday afternoon the raffle had generated $140,000 in tickets sold, but he's hoping a late push will increase the figure to $200,000. Anybody who wants to enter the drawing still has until 9 a.m. Thursday to buy tickets for $2, with a five-ticket minimum required. The drawing will be held later in the day.
He opted for a raffle-style fundraiser because he didn't want a few wealthy collectors bidding in an auction. Now the average fan has the opportunity to win it.
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