NFL star Michael Thomas has a mission to show others about cash
Houston Texans Safety Michael Thomas was named Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year.
Source: The Houston Texans
Houston Texan safety Michael Thomas may not get a Super Bowl ring this year – but he has long received praise for his work off the field.
The NFL veteran, an advocate of social justice and financial literacy, was nominated for this year's Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award, which recognizes an NFL player for outstanding community service. The winner will be announced on February 6, the day before the championship game.
Thomas' focus on financial literacy stems from his lack of awareness of the subject he is growing up. It wasn't until he was an adult that he learned about finance.
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His parents focused on "making ends meet," he said.
That's because as a child of Louisiana, the Louisiana family moved to Texas for his sister's cancer treatment. In the process, his parents went from lawyers to teachers, and his father eventually became the only financial services provider for the family.
"He's been working to take care of his family and that doesn't have to give him an disposable income," said Thomas, who had just finished his first season with the Texans.
"So these conversations are not going on."
Michael Thomas reads Zoom books to elementary school students in the Houston area to celebrate Founding Day of the Houston Texans.
Source: Houston Texans
Although he didn't know much about money as a kid, he knew he wanted to make a difference. It was inspired by commercials by football professionals who visited surprised fans.
"Even as a kid, I thought that if I make it into the NFL, I would always come back and give this experience to kids, regardless of whether it was a surprise or a constant support system," recalls 30-year-old Thomas, who has also played for the New York Giants and Miami Dolphins.
His list of good works is long.
That year, his social justice initiatives focused on advocacy and education, such as organizing a Texan player video calling for reform after the police murder of George Floyd and attending a Boys for Girls town hall Club of America.
"I really want to work towards a solution, towards change, whatever that is in this country," said Thomas.
He also raised funds for the Dreambuilders Foundation, which helps financially, physically, and mentally disabled children, and was the spokesperson for the Houston Texans Stats Challenge program, which encourages children to enjoy math.
Thomas even has his own initiative – a free youth soccer camp called Camp Mike T. Held at Thorne Stadium in Houston. The program focuses on elementary, middle and high school students and teaches them more than just sports.
Participants also learn skills such as applying for college and dealing with money. This includes the cost of living, budgeting and taxes, and the look of an NFL contract.
"The reality is that not everyone will get a football scholarship or make it into the NFL," said Thomas.
"It's nice to see them light up, dealing with the academic advisers, the various colleges and issues," he said.