As everyone has heard by now, the Haitian people are suffering following a devastating earthquake and an almost as equally powerful aftershock. What many may not know is that former Washington Redskins linebacker Ken Harvey was tasked by Diageo to visit the embattled island and offer his support.
Harvey hopped on Redskins One and made his way to Haiti. Once on the island, the devastation was beyond anything he could have imagined.
“I got a chance to be on a helicopter for a minute there and from far away, you see just tons of homes stacked on top of each other, rows of homes on the mountainside, just tons of homes. And then as you got closer, you realized that each one of those homes had been destroyed. Then you start thinking, ‘Man. If each of these homes is destroyed, just to knock down each of them in order to start rebuilding could take months, and it could take years to rebuild.’ You just start thinking of the magnitude of what’s gone on down there, and you’re a little like, ‘Wow. Where’s it even going to start?’”
Of course, as is true with the Redskins-great, he tries to see things in a positive light.
“You have to start somewhere. Even if it’s just starting with one block, and making that one block a symbol of where we’re going to go and where we’re going to be, then that’s what they need to start with to give people hope; so they can see that even though the ground was shaking, they are going to be re-built.”
Ironically enough, Ken got back from Haiti at 5:00 AM on Wednesday morning. Just a few hours later, reports of the powerful aftershock came across the airwaves. Had the trip been delayed a day, or even a few hours, Harvey could have been there. While most people would just be grateful to have gotten out in time, the four-time Pro Bowler had a slightly different perspective.
“In one way you thank God that you weren’t there. On the other hand, you look at all these people and realize that it’s their second time and wonder about the fear that must be going through their hearts and minds”, Harvey stated, adding, “When I was there, people were scared to go in their homes just because they don’t know what’s going to happen. I’m sure they are really frightened now.”
That different perspective stems from something in the first sentence of Harvey’s quote. Ken realizes that he was a great professional football player and that it is this identity that most will always think of first when they hear his name, but it’s as a husband, a father and a man of God that he identifies himself.
When asked if he felt thankful for being put in a position to help in these situations, the Cal Bear stated: “You know what; you probably took the words right out of my mouth. Probably if you’d have said it earlier, you’d have had to explain it to me. As I going down there, I’m thinking, “I’m not a doctor, what can I do? Am I just taking up a space? What am I doing?” and then it hit me. There are people that cure, there are people that build, and there are different people to do different things. Through sports, God allowed me to have a voice to get on these radio stations, TV stations, for you to interview me, and I might be able to reach a whole other audience that may not be thinking about giving. So it would be wrong of me to say no, and I consider it an honor and a privilege. I feel like God selected me or at least allowed me the privilege of doing that.”
In this day and age where players are getting arrested, shooting themselves in the leg in clubs, fighting dogs and “making it rain,” it offers solace to know that there are still players that epitomized greatness on the field, that carry that greatness off the field.
Edit: This blog was archived in May of 2016 from our original articles database.It was originally posted by Scott Hurrey