The New England Patriots hosted their annual Kickoff Gala Tuesday night in the Fidelity Investments Clubhouse at Gillette Stadium. With everyone all dressed up and looking sharp, it was one player, Jarvis Green, who stood out from the crowd.
Green was the recipient of the 2006 New England Patriots Ron Burton Community Service Award. The award is named in honor of Ron Burton, the first player ever drafted by the team and known for his charitable work throughout the state of Massachusetts.
A Louisiana native, Green, has committed his time to numerous Hurricane Katrina relief efforts in both New Orleans and Massachusetts. He's started a fund with members of his family in Louisiana to help victims of the Gulf Coast tragedy. Green was honored to receive such a prestigious award.
"This is something very special to me," Green said. "I was surprised when they first told me about the award. I just try to be there for the community, for the fans and for the kids also. Going back and seeing the mess still in New Orleans made a big impression on me. Seeing the kids and the morale down there. We're still helping people and plan on continuing. There's a lot to do because the area is still in bad shape. It's a slow process but it's getting better."
Green, who also makes appearances at local schools and hospitals, is the fourth Patriot to be selected for the award, joining past winners Joe Andruzzi (2003), Troy Brown (2004) and last year's honoree, Matt Light.
Light said winning the award was not only an honor for him but also a tribute to the man it's named after.
"This award is a great tribute to Ron and everything he did in his life," Light said. "I think there's a lot of guys on this team that can relate to the kind of man he was. It's hard work. It's not easy to go out there, get involved with community things and also have a family at home, while dealing with all the pressures of being a professional athlete but when you do it, it's very rewarding.
"You have a great sense of purpose and it means a lot to the people you're helping. For me, when I won I looked back at Troy and Joe and all the things they've done and to be in that circle, it's a great honor. What Jarvis is feeling now, hopefully that will continue for the rest of his life. Football will come and go but the things we do off the field and with the kids really means a lot."
Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft presented Green with the award and gave his thoughts on what it means to the organization.
"I am very proud to have an award that recognizes and rewards community service," Kraft said. "Philanthropy is very important to my family and we are proud of all the charitable contributions made by our players. Ron Burton was a Patriot player who committed his life to giving back to his community. He set a great example for all others to follow and I'm glad that so many of our players continue that tradition today."
Kraft also stated how proud he is of Green and the efforts he's made to help the people of New Orleans. According to Kraft, no one deserves this honor more than Green for all the good things he's done off the field this past year.
"We're happy that the one thing we have in the locker room that isn't football related is the trophy with Ron's image on it and now we put the fourth name on there tonight," Kraft said. "Jarvis is a very special man because he's not out there loud and boisterous. He just does a lot of good things in a very classy way. He really deserves the honor he's getting tonight
"This is the exact day a year ago that Katrina hit and he's been so supportive of the people down there and he and his wife also did things to help in this community as well. Jarvis is always the first person, whenever our foundation is looking for someone to go out in the community, he always volunteers. Really, just in a quiet way, he makes a great impact."
The Patriots owner also took a moment to talk football and his feelings regarding receiver Deion Branch.
"Like all the fans, I think Deion is very special but we have to let things work their way out and we'll see what happens come Friday," Kraft said. "It's a complicated subject. I left this to Bill [Belichick] and Scott [Pioli] to work out, so we'll have to wait and see what happens."