Drew Stanton’s Detroit Lions did not make it to Sunday’s Super Bowl, despite a valiant resurgence by the team this season. Even if they had, Stanton himself would likely not be taking a single snap. He is a valued leader in the locker room nonetheless, and his leadership extends to his off-the-field activities, making the backup quarterback a consistently high performer in his community.
And this is no small thing. Consider this tweet, which brought my attention to Stanton’s enthusiasm for his home state of Michigan and its people: “Cant wait to see ALL my friends from @SpecialOlympics 4 Winter games. With the help of @Carhartt we outfitted all of Area 26 (city of Det).”
In December 2011, Stanton was named the recipient of the Lions’ Robert Porcher Man of the Year Award for the third consecutive year. The recognition placed him among the 32 nominees for the 2011 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, which was won by the deserving Baltimore Ravens center Matt Birk.
A native of Michigan, Stanton focuses much of the resources of his High 5ive Foundation helping the Special Olympics and Children’s Miracle Network. But he participates in many additional causes, including Orchards Children’s Service, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the Dearborn Animal Shelter.
Stanton’s efforts with the Dearborn shelter, to my mind, place him in the above-and-beyond category, at a time when an estimated 50,000 dogs in the Detroit area are homeless. His contributions include participating in the Detroit Lions’ Pet Calendar for the past four years, helping the shelter with public service announcements, joining its annual Mutt Strut and serving with his wife as honorary chairs for the shelter’s annual Black Tie Gala.
Though he was not chosen as one of the three finalists for the national Man of the Year award, Stanton, along with each of the teams’ nominees, is unequaled in his importance to his particular causes and valued for his efforts on behalf of the vulnerable—people and pets—in our society. For Stanton to stand year after year as a Man of the Year nominee speaks to his consistent excellence in the performance of humanity.