Leonard Fournette may be an NFL player with a lot of money at his disposal right now, but he hasn’t always lived that kind of lifestyle.
In fact, as a kid, Fournette grew up in the 7th Ward of New Orleans, where crime rates were high, income was low, and Hurricane Katrina destroyed the lives of a countless number of families and civilians.
Despite signing a fully-guaranteed rookie contract worth just over $27 million.
Despite signing the most valuable rookie endorsement deal in the NFL with Under Armour.
Despite all that, Fournette doesn’t forget his background.
After partnering with the protein and supplement company MET-Rx, Fournette and the company knew they wanted to make an impact on the Jacksonville community.
Fournette and MET-Rx collaborated to create a dumbbell set to donate to a school in Jacksonville, out of Fournette’s childhood football trophies.
Fournette donated from his collection as well as collected donated trophies via MET-Rx, per the company to me.
You can watch MET-Rx’s video of the process and delivery below.
I was invited to attend the event, where Fournette completely surprised the Raines Vikings football team during their team workout with the weight set, and interview the Jaguars rookie running back (after he took some of the Raines students on a joy-ride in his Mercedes-Benz and got them on FaceTime with New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr.).
Zach Goodall: How did this charitable idea start with MET-Rx?
Leonard Fournette: It was an idea from both points of view. I figured my trophies at home were just collecting dust and not doing anything, so why not put them to use? The memory of them is always going to be in my mind, so this is a blessing.
ZG: You grew up in New Orleans, in the 7th Ward, and you said in your introductory press conference about how difficult your life was growing up. If you can, go a little into detail about your experiences, even in high school, if you ever had anything like what these kids got today?
LF: It was rough. Nobody with a big name ever came back to us or helped us out. My whole task is to be a difference maker, you know and give the young kids hope, and motivate them.
ZG: What’s next with this campaign? Will you be doing any more donating, maybe come back to Raines to watch some of these kids play?
LF: Yeah, most definitely. Whenever I have time I’m going to come back and visit, and come see their games. I mean, that can go a long way. You never know, could always spark some energy, spark the room up.
ZG: They even have a Brian Dawkins (1992 Raines graduate) sign up outside of the weight room, they may get you up there too.
LF: Yeah, yeah they have a couple of guys up there.
ZG: So, onto some Jaguars stuff, in one word, describe how your, albeit short, career has been so far.
LF: It’s fun, man. Fun, yeah, fun.
ZG: How have you been splitting work so far? I know you brought up Chris [Ivory] to me earlier and how he has been helping you out a lot.
LF: Coach Tyrone [Wheatley] really does a great job with us, giving everybody their reps and what they need. I’m just enjoying those guys, just getting to know each other better and better, and becoming brothers.
ZG: And what’s it like having Tom Coughlin around?
LF: Oh man, Coach Tom, I love Coach Tom. Great guy, he expects a lot out of us. That’s why his name is so respected across the league, he’s a tremendous coach.
ZG: In recent years, the Jaguars have had a more up-tempo, passing offense, and now they seem dedicated to the run game. How has the offense seeming to adjust with the scheme changes from your fresh perspective?
LF: I think a lot of those guys come from running schools, just their school’s tradition, so it’s going good.
ZG: Like Marquez (Williams).
LF: Ohhh yeah!
ZG: Yeah, I loved that pick. Speaking of personnel, if you were going up against the Jaguars defensive line in a game, which player would haunt you?
LF: Oh man... Malik [Jackson]? Or Calais [Campbell], man, that dude is 6-8, 300 lbs. I can remember, looking at the defense from the huddle, while they’re in their huddle, and he’s making everybody look tiny. That’s a grown man. And what’s so crazy is he’s athletic, even at that size, man he’s a big guy with tremendous speed and handwork. He’s a hard worker and he makes you want to work hard.
ZG: Who on the team has taken you under their wing?
LF: A lot of those guys, like Chris [Ivory], Calais [Campbell], Malik [Jackson], Telvin [Smith]. Just getting with those guys, competing with them, knowing why they’re at the top of the rankings like they are, because they work so hard.
ZG: Last question: With all of the new faces in the coaching staff — Coughlin, you, the free agent signings — the expectations are high for this team’s on-paper talent. What are you expecting out of this team this year?
LF: I expect greatness from us, no matter what. I know we’re going to dominate. That’s just what we have to look forward to. Everybody needs to believe in their game, and we’re going to be alright.