Leonard Pope: Chiefs TE Exemplifies Real Hero in Rescue of Drowning Boy

Farzin VousoughianContributor IIIJune 14, 2011

KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 22: TIght end Leonard Pope #45 of the Kansas City Chiefs dives into the end zone for a touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Arrowhead Stadium on November 22, 2009 in Kansas City, Missouri.  The Chiefs defeated the Steelers 27-24.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Fans and the media are guilty of giving more attention to players who get in trouble. I’m guilty of that as well. But when heroic stories about certain player are released, we make up for it by applauding and recognizing them for their efforts.

Little do we know about these players and what they’re like outside of the game of football. Some players spend time with their families or give up a few minutes of their time to visit kids in the hospital while some get in trouble with the law. For Leonard Pope, he was at the right place at the right time this past weekend.

Like many players, Pope was enjoying his extended time off from football and was at a pool party in South Georgia during a calm Saturday evening. Suddenly, Pope heard mother Anne Moore scream in concern at one point during the party. Pope immediately rushed to the commotion and saw six-year-old Bryson Moore in a swimming pool with his hands in the air, struggling to swim.

With his cell phone and wallet placed in his pockets, Pope wasted no time diving into the pool to save Bryson. Pope was successful in lifting Bryson out of the water, preventing him from drowning.

Stories like this simply prove that you don’t have to be a 10-time Pro Bowler to be considered a hero. Pope’s decision to dive in the pool, with his phone and wallet on him, is not one many would make.

Pope isn’t a key player for the Kansas City Chiefs, however, as his teammates, coaches and fans continue to learn about this story, he’s earning a lot of respect and will be viewed differently by the people he sees and works with. Many fans will hope that he stays on the team just because of his courageous act to save a young boy.

Football fans around the world love hearing stories like this about a player who went out of his way to answer another prayer. It feels even better when it comes from a player who is on your favorite team.

During the 2008 offseason, former Chief Tony Gonzalez saved a man from choking to death at a restaurant in California. Gonzalez performed the Heimlich maneuver, popping out a piece of meat that was stuck in the victim’s throat.

The NFL also recognizes athletic heros for their contributions off the field. Players who take their time to help the community become candidates for the NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. The Chiefs have had five players earn this award. No team in the league has ever had five or more players receive this honor.

The former Chiefs recipients include Willie Lanier in 1972, Len Dawson in 1973, Derrick Thomas in 1993, Will Shields in 2003 and Brian Waters in 2009. Players who win the award receive a $25,000 donation to a charity of their choice.

Sometimes, we only know these guys as people who put on helmets, pads and cleats to  entertain us while they play a game they love. Outside of the gridiron, some of these players create a ruckus and make headlines after getting arrested. It’s refreshing when players like Pope make headlines for saving another human’s life. Like many unheralded players, Pope defines the true meaning of a hero.

Coincidentally, on this month 28 years ago, Chiefs running back Joe Delaney died in an attempt to save three children from drowning in a pond. Delaney did not know how to swim.