Another visit with the Positivity Express

Point of No Return

We are continuing with our efforts in this space to keep the proverbial blinders on regarding the nastiness and division in the world around us, and instead focus on a significant reality of living as human beings — most people are good at heart. Some are fantastic.

This week we are going to shine a light on Chicago Bears star linebacker Khalil Mack, known as one of the fiercest defenders in the National Football League. A quick look at his football pedigree shows that he holds the all-time record for most fumbles caused in college, was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year for the 2016 season, has been named to four Pro Bowls, and was the first player in NFL history to be named first-team All Pro at two different positions in the same season.

So, yeah, he’s not bad at this football thing.

He also does a pretty good job with his personal life, as well. Mack taught himself to play the guitar in college and now spends some of his free time writing music. He’s also an active Christian and grew up in the church where both of his parents served as deacons and — I guess when you’re a big, scary linebacker you can freely and openly admit this — his favorite movie is “Mary Poppins.”

Long story short — this is a guy who is amazing at his job, and looks for personal fulfillment off the field. Good guy, right?

Well, with a tip of the cap to our friends in the infomercial game, “But, wait... There’s more!”

The Khalil Mack Foundation started with a mission to “positively affect the lives of intercity and under-privileged youth and families by providing for the community, through educational and extra-curricular initiatives, a safe and enjoyable environment where we intend to aid in learning successful character traits through sport, and creating opportunities to financial resources and meaningful experiences to all we serve,” according to their website.

This is heady stuff, and the site is filled with photos of Mack and other NFL players being involved with children and organizations that help out families in need. In his hometown of Fort Pierce, Fla., Mack’s foundation just elevated the holiday season for many families. A Walmart in Fort Pierce shared some news on Facebook on Friday, Dec. 6.

“We here at Walmart would like to thank the Khalil Mack Foundation for your generosity, and for making so many families happy for the holidays. Everyone is truly grateful for everything you have done for them!”

Sweet. But what did Mack and his foundation do?

According to an article on foxnews.com, Mack’s foundation approached the store with the idea of helping out his hometown community. They then made a donation that covered amounts due on more than 300 layaway accounts, though Mack asked that the dollar amount not be disclosed.

That is 300 families making diligent payments on Christmas presents to make their loved ones have special holidays who are getting a little financial relief during a time of the year when that is too-often in short supply. That can be life-changing for families who are stretching every last dollar to make holiday memories happen, and it can mean everything. Absolutely everything.

He apparently likes to play the role of an amateur Santa Claus. The Chicago Chargers U14 Pop Warner football team earned a spot in the Disney National Championship in Florida — a terrific achievement on its own, with the hopes of more glory coming down the road. But they needed about $20,000 to get there. Guess who stepped up to make a donation to help them get to their goal? That’s right. Khalil Mack.

Many players at Mack’s old high school, Fort Pierce Westwood, couldn’t afford new cleats for the 2019 season. Guess who contributed 100 pairs of Nike Vapor Untouchable 3 cleats to the school? Go ahead. Guess.

I’m not a Bears fan. Nor am I a fan of the Oakland Raiders, where Mack began his professional career. And I’m not an ardent follower of Buffalo University — the only college that even offered Mack a scholarship out of high school.

But I am a fan of a player who uses his resources and fame to generate opportunities for other people who maybe weren’t blessed with freakish athletic abilities, or a sound family that pushed him in the right direction. Mack himself knows that his family is a big reason for his storied work ethic and generosity.

“It’s how I was raised,” Mack told the San Jose Mercury News in a 2016 article. “My parents put me in a nice position, but that’s all it is — a nice position. You’ve got to put in the work. You’ve got to humble yourself.”

That’s a great recipe for becoming a success in the National Football League. It’s also a great way to become a decent human being.