Football team demonstrates commitment to character, generosity
As the team began preseason practices this year, first-year Temple football coach Al Golden told reporters, “The Golden Rule is very simple, and that is: What you do [as a football player], you do to everyone at Temple. … How you conduct yourself — academically, athletically and socially — is reflected on the entire University.”
He wasn’t kidding.
At the opening football game in Buffalo, this year’s team donated $1,530 to the Adam Taliaferro Foundation in the name of Shykem Lawrence, a high school safety who suffered a severe spinal cord injury in late August. And when they played Clemson on Oct. 12, Golden and his players further demonstrated their commitment to that philosophy. Before leaving for Charlotte, they unanimously voted to donate their one-week’s game per diem — a total of $1,500 — to help Clemson football player Ray Ray McElrathbey raise his 11-year-old brother.
Clemson football player Ray Ray McElrathbey (right) and his brother Fahmarr (Photo courtesy Clemson Sports Information)
McElrathbey’s story has made national headlines. He took custody of his brother, Fahmarr, this summer in response to their mother’s continuing drug problem. Refusing to return his brother to foster care, McElrathbey made the difficult decision to take on the role of parenting — on top of school, football and the everyday demands of being a college student.
On Sept. 19, the NCAA granted special permission for Clemson University to establish the Fahmarr McElrahbey Trust Fund, which will provide the two brothers with basic needs such as food, clothing and transportation. Less than a month later, ESPN announced that donations from across the country — including Temple — had reached nearly $50,000.
In a letter addressed to McElrathbey before the game, Golden explained his team’s motivation. “What you are doing will not only impact your life and Fahmarr’s but many more people that you are an inspiration to. … Your unselfish actions have not only shown a very positive light on you and your family but to all of college football.”
Almost immediately, the response from Clemson athletes, alumni and staff began streaming in. “As a third-generation Clemson alumni and supporter, I want to congratulate you and thank you for the fine example your team and staff led by contributing to ‘the Ray Ray Fund,’” wrote alumnus Kay Ritger in a message to Temple Athletic Director Bill Bradshaw. “It is so encouraging and refreshing to see such an act in sports today, and I thank you for leading with such a positive example.”
In a letter to Faculty Senate President Jane Evans, Clemson professor Beth Kunkel wrote, “For your football team to make such a selfless gesture speaks more loudly than any words of the quality and integrity of your students, faculty and athletic administrators.”
Golden expects the football team to be representatives of Temple, and his players have stepped up to the challenge.
“Giving is the highest level of living, and this is what I’m trying to teach my players,” Golden said.
By Erin Cusack
For the Temple Times