ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WROC) — While some athletes shy away from being a role model, Josh Allen has always embraced being the “franchise quarterback”.
He’s always out in the community, he likes to give back to local charities, and he’s generous with his time with the kids who look up to him. You can thank a bad experience from his youth for that.
When Allen was growing up in California, he attended a San Francisco Giants game. Allen and his family waited around after the game to try and meet some of the players. Allen had a particularly negative experience with an unnamed player he looked up to.
“We were in the tunnel and the player had a really good game. It was probably an hour after the game and there were maybe ten kids left. My parents were begging us, like, ‘let’s go, let’s go. He’s not coming out.’ Sure enough, he came out, and like I said there are probably 10 kids left,” said Allen. “Instead of looking and waving and maybe even giving us fist bumps or whatever, he just kind of turned his cap to the side and kept walking. That just left an impression on me, like, I don’t want to root for this guy anymore. It bothered me so much.”
“I told myself if I was in a position like I am today, I’d do everything in my power just to acknowledge every kid that looked up to me,” he added. “Because I had been there before and I know how bad it hurt me when the athlete I looked up to didn’t seem like he cared too much about us. That’s why in training camp I’m usually the last one out there and trying to high-five and sign things for kids. Just knowing how much of an impact something so minor can make.”
Allen knows how much of an impact just a small amount of his time can have on those that look up to him.
He also does his part to give back to local charities and causes using the simple motto “if you can you must.”
“I don’t like posting all the things that I do off the field, that’s not my M.O. I don’t really try and gain anything from it. Whether it be using my time or money towards certain foundations and hospitals or whatever the case may be, that’s the way I kind of roll,” said Allen. “Just trying to be a good person off the field. Without being able to go in person and doing some of these benefits and some of these foundation events, it’s a little tougher, obviously. I wish things were back to normal where we could go and do these things. I think something as simple as me showing up somewhere or saying hello to a kid, that can really impact somebody or some organization in a major way.”
Allen spends a lot of his time at the John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital in Buffalo. Proceeds from his “Josh’s Jaqs” cereal go to the hospital. It hits home for him in part because his brother was diagnosed with Kawasaki Disease as a kid. Allen remembers his family’s difficulties.
“These children are given the short end of the stick and the situations are gut-wrenching. Just knowing that me saying hello, me showing up and giving them a little Bills goodie-bag or whatever the case may be. What that can do for them, how it can lift their spirits up in their time of need. It’s something near and dear to my heart,” said Allen. “It breaks my heart every time I go there because you see some things that you don’t wish upon anybody.”
“These are just children who don’t deserve what they’re going through,” says Allen. “But just the littlest thing of me showing up and being there and showing my support and telling them I’m praying for them and caring about them, it can make that much of a difference.”
While Allen can’t visit the hospital in person these days, he still makes visits virtually.
Allen may have gotten the cold shoulder years ago in San Francisco. But if it made Josh the person he is today, I think we can all thank that anonymous player.