While we spend most of our time at NN focusing our analysis and discussion on the on-field product, I personally enjoy learning a little more about the players off the field. The media loves to report on player transgressions, but they often ignore the positive contributions of a lot of NFL players. The players have passions off the field that shape who they are as people.
New 49er wide receiver Anquan Boldin is one such player. He is involved in numerous charitable activities (see the Anquan Boldin Foundation), but he is currently focused on one in particular. Boldin is in Washington, DC this week, speaking with elected officials about the plight of communities in Africa dealing with mining companies. I noticed him mention it on Twitter and was quickly able to get in touch with him for a few minutes.
Boldin works with the folks at OxFam, which is an organization working to end poverty, hunger and injustice around the world. It's a Herculean task, but somebody's got to try, right? Boldin discovered OxFam when he was doing research about the drought in Ethiopia. He joined up with them on a trip to Ethiopa, and the partnership has developed from there. Earlier this spring, Boldin joined OxFam on a trip to Senegal, where he was joined by Roddy White and Larry Fitzgerald. That might actually sound familiar to some of you as he was en route to Senegal when he was traded to the 49ers.
Boldin, White and Fitzgerald went to Senegal to learn more about the mining operations that go on there. Limited laws have allowed companies to come in and mine the land without providing compensation to the people. Boldin came to Washington, DC to raise awareness with lawmakers, and hopefully help facilitate change. He mentioned to me that the biggest initial issue is transparency. Oil, gas and mining companies come into these countries and do deals in relative secrecy, leaving locals in the dark and uncompensated.
He has spent much of today meeting with Representatives and Senators to discuss this transparency issue. It is a topic that is not discussed frequently, and Boldin is hoping to get more awareness on the subject. He believes that by speaking to members of Congress, the US could potentially use their influence to get stronger transparency laws in place in countries like Senegal.
Here is some video of his interview with Andrea Mitchell: