DALLAS (WMC) - It’s not all about football this week, the Tigers are also taking the time to serve as ambassadors of Goodwill.
Memphis Tigers football players and coaches took an afternoon away from the football field to spread smiles to children in Dallas who desperately need them.
The Tigers players put down the footballs and picked up some crayons at the Scottish Rite Hospital for Children.
These children are being treated for severe orthopedic injuries. The hospital says they look up to these players and an experience like this means everything to them.
“A lot of times I forget that I play college football and we’re on TV a lot. So some of these kids might look up to us and think we’re Superman," said Tigers Defensive Back Austin Hall.
For the Tiger players, interacting with children, some whom are battling for their lives puts their struggles in a different context.
“Our whole entire team, we’re healthy men. At the same time we have bangs and bruises but it puts in perspective what kids have to go through each and every day," said Hall. "I’m very grateful for my health and prayers for all the kids that have to experience what they have to experience here.”
During the team’s trip to the Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, they met their honorary team captain for the Cotton Bowl, Rocky Smith - who quickly learned how to lead the Tigers in their team chant
Rocky seriously hurt his femur during a trampoline accident and has had several surgeries to repair a growth plate. He now plays football and recently kicked a game winning field goal for his team!
“I talked to lots of players, Riley the kicker, he’s pretty cool. Yeah they’re a nice group of people, good community, I like them,” said Rocky.
Although the visit was to help give back to the children and the community of Dallas, the players say they were reminded of many important lessons and they had just as much fun as the kids.
While the players signed memorabilia, one Tiger had the children sign his hat.
“I saw a blank hat and we’re having them sign stuff so why not have them sign our stuff because it means just as much to us as it does for them," said one player.
“If you look out there and see our young men smiling, it means they’re truly enjoying the experience right now," said head coach Ryan Silverfield. "We had a great practice this morning, this is nothing but a business trip but we’re going to enjoy the experiences that the Cotton Bowl presents. And this is the day they’ve all been looking forward to, this hospital visit for us, this will be one of the highlights of the trip.”
Coach Silverfield says it’s back to business for the Tigers starting Tuesday, but this is an experience they will never forget.