After the Patriots season came to an end in Denver, rookie Jordan Richards knew there was something he wanted to do: go out into the community and give back. So on Thursday, he visited Boston's Dana-Farber Cancer Institute to spend time with patients at the Jimmy Fund Clinic.
"I felt like I wanted to do something kind of bigger than myself," he said during the visit. "It's easy to get caught up just playing football every day. I love playing football… [but with] some of the people I've met at these different little functions and outreach opportunities, I wanted to be part of those things."
On Thursday, that meant going one-on-one with pediatric cancer patients. Jordan took time to speak to each of them, sign footballs and hand out books.
"Whether it was making snowmen on paper with Maggie or talking football with Nick, it's just fun to be a kid and let that side out," he said of two of the patients he met. "You realize how simple life is. It was a lot of fun."
Still, Jordan's generosity wasn't limited to his time. He also stopped by the Kraft Family Blood Donor Center to donate platelets, which are crucial for many cancer patients, according to Malissa Lichtenwalter, supervisor of donor recruitment.
"They're a fast replicating cell and that's oftentimes why patients who are going through chemotherapy need platelet transfusions," she explained. "Most chemotherapies – traditional ones – are designed to destroy fast replicating cells, because that's what cancer is."
Blood and platelets given at the Kraft Family Blood Donor Center go directly to patients of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women's Hospital, meaning Jordan's donation would potentially help the children he met earlier in the day.
"I never heard of [platelet donation] until I volunteered to come here," he commented. "I'm glad I did it and I'm planning on doing it again sometime."
Jordan's dedication to giving back is something he demonstrated throughout his rookie season, as he regularly participated in the Patriots Celebrate Volunteerism initiative. He visited Dana-Farber Cancer Instituteduring breast cancer awareness month in October, and also joined the annual Thanksgiving in a Basket event and Children's Holiday Party.
Jordan and several other rookies, including Brandon King and Geneo Grissom, have been seen as sort of community all-stars this season, giving their time and energy to a number of projects while also adapting to life in the NFL.
"It's a great group of guys," Jordan said of the 2015 rookie class. "I think we all walked into an awesome situation and you see the culture that's been built here on the field and off the field. You just want to be part of that and uphold the standard that's been set and do your part to raise that standard."
The Patriots 2015 second round pick surprised patients during a special visit to the Jimmy Fund Clinic. Afterwards, he donated platelets at the Kraft Family Blood Donor Center at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women's Hospital.