Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Mohamed Sanu, Jr. is probably walking a little taller these days. In addition to playing for the defending NFC champions and pre-season favorites to win the NFC South, Sanu also picked up a little souvenir during a recent flight.
A family sitting behind Sanu left him a little note, which Sanu then shared on Twitter.
This definitely put a smile on my face. ☺️ the little things. pic.twitter.com/OFKpwcho5H
— Mohamed Sanu Sr. (@Mo_12_Sanu) April 22, 2017
Hi! You don’t know us, but we wanted to thank you. Our son sat behind you on this flight and watched you. He saw you studying your plays, watched you make healthy choices with your snacks, food and drink. He watched how polite you were to everyone. He is only 10 but just made an elite hockey team and we are on our way to training in CT. You are an inspiration to children and for that you should be proud! Thank you and Best of Luck!”
The note is signed, The Family That Sat Behind You.
Charles Barkley once famously rejected the idea of athletes as role models. His point at the time was that athletes shouldn’t serve as role models simply because they’re good at sports. It’s a fair point.
However, it’s also one that will typically be lost on many kids.
They look up to athletes because they represent something kids want to be. It’s as simple as that.
As such, they’re watched. Kids see what athletes do and get the idea that they can do it too. If the star player acts like a prima donna, then they think they can act the same way if they play well enough. They learn lessons that parents often don’t want them learning.
So when Sanu did what he did, which was really nothing more than being a professional, he imparted a lesson. He showed that making it to the Super Bowl requires hard work, dedication, and making smart choices.
Yes, Mom and Dad may have imparted those lessons too, but so what? After all, many kids may wonder what their parents know about making it in professional sports. Maybe a diet of Twinkies and root beer is just what they need.
But Mohamed Sanu, Jr. knows what it takes to make it to the pros. His actions rammed a lesson home better than Mom or Dad ever could.
And I’m glad the parents left that note for Sanu. Maybe other players will start following that example too.