|THE MAN AMONG MEN|
Year Man of the Year
SNOHOMISH, Wash. – Last week, John Carlson was selected as the Seahawks’ Man of the Year. Tuesday, he showed why.
The team’s on-the-mend tight end was at Cathcart Elementary School to present principal Casey Bowers and 410 revved up students with an oversized check for $10,000 for being honored as the Seattle-area “Super School” in the NFL’s Play 60 campaign.
“I didn’t plan the timing of the award and then this appearance,” Carlson said with a smile following an assembly and 45-minute Ultimate NFL Physical Education Class. “But if I could have, this would have been a good way to do it.
“But I enjoy doing this stuff and I get a lot out of it.”
That was apparent, as Carlson didn’t just engage the students, he was engaging.
“It just makes sense to do it,” he said. “Right when you get in the league as a rookie, you’re just kind of swimming and just trying to get by. But after a couple of years you realize that it’s a platform where you can really make a difference just with your time and by reaching out.
“I think it’s something we should do as NFL players.”
The event was a family affair for Carlson because his mother, Bette Jo, flew in for the festivities. She is a high school health and physical education teacher in Minnesota, at the same school where Carlson’s father coaches and also teaches PE.
“John is just what you kind of want your kids to do,” his mother said. “He’s a professional athlete, but there’s more to John than that.”
Carlson really is “the boy next door.” Or at least as close to that cliché as you can get.
“John hasn’t changed,” his mother said. “When he went to Notre Dame and then came out here, his values didn’t change. I’m just really proud of him. He’s a great role model, because he’s kind, he’s disciplined, he does things right.”
But the real stars on this day were the students at Cathcart and their teachers, who put in the effort to have their school among the 34 honored nationwide by the NFL this year.
“It was a team effort to bring it all together,” Bowers said. “It was like, ‘OK, you put your hat in the ring and it’s a pretty long shot.’ So when I got the letter, I was like, ‘Really? Really?’ It was pretty cool.”
The students gave Carlson the star treatment, however, as all 410 of them were lined up outside the school as Carlson arrived to chants of “Seahawks. Seahawks. Seahawks.” He then entered the gymnasium for the assembly to shrieks and squeals.
But the loudest cheer came when Carlson handed over the check the students worked so hard to earn – money the school plans to use to increase its health-awareness program, help with the students’ social-emotional awareness and supplement its Cougar Cruiser Running Club. The school actually got an additional $1,000 because Fred Miller was selected a “Super Parent” and that amount was donated in his name. Microsoft also donated a pair of Xbox gaming systems.
“It was really awesome,” said Shelby Bartolotti, a 12-year-old sixth-grader who was wearing a vintage No. 94 Chad Brown jersey she was given by her brother. “We won this money for our school, and our school needs the money. And it’s also great because I love the Seahawks. Go Seahawks.
“And then it was so much fun to have a Seahawks player come to our school.”
The assembly ended with Carlson providing some thoughtful answers to some well thought-out questions from five students.
After all was said and done, Bowers offered, “I loved the way he answered their questions and made them feel like they had special questions. He took time to answer them in that way. Kids deserve good answers and sometimes we don’t respond to kids and really respect their questions. But John was a great example of how to listen to kids’ questions and then answer them in a way that makes sense and like they were heard. So that was special for him to do that.”
All in another off-day’s work for Carlson, who is on injured reserve following surgery to repair a torn labrum but continues his work in the community along with his rehab.
“Often – no, all the times – when I go to schools or go to visit kids in the hospital, I get more out of it than they do,” Carlson said. “So part of me feels guilty even for going, because I know I’m coming away with probably more than I give them.
“No matter what you’re doing, people want to feel like they’re making a difference with what they’re devoting their life to. I worked hard in the weight room and on the practice field as a football player, but what does that equate to? Doing things like this is a great way that football players can make a difference.”
Carlson will get no argument from the Super Kids at the “Super School” he visited on Tuesday.