Already named the 2012 NFC South Champs, the Atlanta Falcons are on a roll. Tied alongside the Houston Texans for the best record in the NFL (11-1), the Falcons may very well make their way to New Orleans on February 3rd for Super Bowl XLVII.
Many of these guys in the NFL realize it’s not only hard work on the field that pays off; it’s the hard work and dedication off the field that’s just as important. Corey Peters, defensive tackle for the Atlanta Falcons, takes just as much pride in his charity work with young kids as he does in his hard-hitting stats.
Peters, who signed his NFL contract on his birthday (June 8, 2010), is an avid supporter of Rally Foundation, a nonprofit, which started in a neighborhood driveway and has now found a place on the NFL stage. Rally Foundation has one mission: to raise money for childhood cancer research through grassroots initiatives.
“Signing my contract on my birthday was the realization of a dream come true. I’ve been incredibly blessed and I couldn’t be happier with this organization and the opportunities they’ve provided me. I won’t take that for granted for one second,” Peters says.
One of those opportunities is not only a starting position on the Falcons star-studded roster, but the chance to be part of organizations like Rally Foundation. You can look at Peters by the numbers and surely be impressed. He’s been in the league for three years. He’s 24 and has five tackles this season with a total of 64 in his NFL career to date. The University of Kentucky graduate wears #91, weighs 305lbs (on a good day) and has played in 37 games, most of which he’s started. Although he’s immensely proud of those numbers, there are other numbers he wanted to talk about during our interview – numbers that go well beyond tackles and touchdowns.
“The Rally Foundation is dedicated to raising money for cancer research for children – childhood cancer is the #1 killer in kids these days. I think it’s really important to help,” Peters says. According to the foundation’s website, one in every 330 Americans develop cancer before the age of twenty-one. On average, about 46 children are diagnosed with cancer every school day in the United States. On average, one in every four elementary schools has a child with cancer and the average high school has two students who are current or former cancer patients, according to the website’s FAQ’s.
“The thing that’s really important is that children’s cancer and adult cancer are two separate things – the research done for a type of cancer an adult would have is completely different than what a child would have; they don’t cross over. This particular charity only focuses on the kids,” Peters says about its personal appeal to him.
Peters, who began working with Rally back in June, currently serves as honorary chair for the spring fashion show, Rally On the Runway, which features girls that have fought or are fighting cancer. “I am a spokesperson in the Atlanta area [where the charity started]. It’s not in every city yet, but hopefully in the next few years we’ll have a spokesperson in each city and get the message out there,” Peters explains.
“These kids are just so special. They are so strong – so much stronger than they have to be at that age. They are the real heroes dealing with the hand they were dealt,” Peters says. “They are the pure of the pure and they don’t deserve any of this. Seeing their parents being strong for their kids – the foundation has done a great job and made a humongous stride to try and prevent future kids from having to go through this.”
When it comes to athletes giving back, Peters knows firsthand why it’s so important to pay it forward. “Nobody gets to where they are without help – that’s in anything you do in life, whether you’re an athlete or in a regular job. It’s always important to remember that. I’ve had my parents, teachers and coaches who have really given their time for free, just for the love of it. When you’re blessed with a platform as large as the NFL, I think it’s your responsibility to pay it forward. I believe God blesses everyone with a certain number of talents and it’s up to us to use them,” Peters says.
“I’m growing everyday, trying to do the right thing and lead by example,” Peters says of his efforts with Rally Foundation.
“These kids are so sweet and have such a pure enthusiasm. This is the least I could do to spend my time doing everything I can to put a smile on their faces. They always put a smile on my face, now it’s my turn,” Peters admits. “I get a whole new perspective on life, and I realize what I’m going through is really nothing.”
Speaking of tough, I imagine keeping this season’s record-setting pace has been a task. “It’s a long season and we’re in a good place right now. We just have to finish strong and hopefully make a good run at it in the playoffs,” Peters says.
As for the toughest game(s) left on the schedule? “ The defending champs [the Giants] will always be tough,” Peters says of next week’s home matchup against Eli and the gang.
Aside from getting his playoff game face ready and volunteering with some of the best kids in all of Atlanta, Peters admits to taking some time and sleeping in on his days off when he can. He also admits his guilty pleasures when it comes to reality TV are The Real World and Bad Girls Club. “It’s bad TV but it’s interesting. It’s definitely dramaful,” Peters laughs.
When it comes to reality shows, Peters can’t help but watch teammate Kroy Biermann, in his Real Housewives of Atlanta cameos on Bravo. Biermann is married to Kim, who stars on the show and the guys horse around with him from time to time in the locker room. “There’s a fair amount of jokes but he doesn’t get it too bad. It could be worse,” Peters admits. “He’s a good guy, and they seem like they really enjoy each other. I watch it every week, mainly because he’s on it, but I used to watch it before then.”
Follow Corey Peters on Twitter.
This post is part of The Blonde Side’s Momentum Challenge series to interview one active player from all 32 NFL Teams within the short time frame of 34 days. Corey Peters and his helpful heart crosses the Atlanta Falcons off the list.
Jayme Lamm is a freelance sports and travel writer based in Houston and is currently in a full-court press writing her hugely opinionated sports column, The Blonde Side. Follow her travels for sporting events and check her out on Twitter.