As he enters his 10th NFL season, Ravens WR Anquan Boldin’s on-field legacy is well-established. Boldin reached 600 catches faster than any other player in NFL history, and the three-time Pro Bowler has racked up 100 receiving yards or more in 32 different games.
However, Boldin has worked to make an impact off the field, as well. His charitable foundation, created in 2004, “is dedicated to expanding the educational and life opportunities of underprivileged children,” according to its mission statement.
“Just to see people go off and do better, for me, that’s worth it all,” Boldin said.
Among the Anquan Boldin Foundation’s initiave: a program that aims to help students in his home town of Pahokee, Fla. keep pace academically over the summer. This summer, the “Q81 Summer Enrichment Program” helped 30 students improve their grade-point averages, according to the foundation.
“When I talk to them, I try to let them know that in this world that we live in today, getting a high school education isn’t enough,” Boldin said of students in the program. “In order to get a job or be on a level playing field, you have to have a college degree in a discipline. For me, I (don’t) want my kids to get left behind. I don’t want them to not have opportunities to succeed in life."
In March, Boldin and Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald, the recipient of PFW's 2012 Arthur S. Arkush Humanitarian Award, traveled to Ethiopia with hunger-relief organization Oxfam to visit the drought- and famine-stricken country. Boldin and Fitzgerald plan to visit West Africa next year, Boldin said.
The former teammates “share common goals to just try and help people (no) matter who the people are, where they’re from, what their struggle is,” Boldin said.
Added Boldin: “A lot of times people get in the positions that we are and they sometimes forget that there are people out there with needs. I think that’s the great thing about him — he’s stayed in tune to the people that are less fortunate than him, and he’s willing to learn and to help people out."
PFW spoke with Boldin Tuesday about his charitable aims, as well as the Ravens’ upcoming season:
PFW: What motivates you to serve others?
Boldin: Especially in my community, there’s always been a need there. … It was always something that I wanted to do. Had I ever been in a position to give back and help, I always wanted (to.) It didn’t have to be making it to the NFL or something like that. It’s just, had I ever been in a position to give back, I always would.
PFW: What was growing up in Pahokee like, and how has that shaped you?
Boldin: I enjoyed myself as a kid. But I will say there’s a lack of opportunity in the Everglades area, period. There’s a lack of jobs. You name it, there’s a lack of (it). But I think the people there are talented, not just in football, but in every aspect of life. But it’s definitely a struggle there, I would say. There’s not much there to occupy every kid, so in order to get out of Pahokee, you have to be really focused.
PFW: How has Pahokee changed since your childhood?
Boldin: To be honest with you, the opportunities are less now than where they were. I’m not sure if you know where Pahokee is, but it’s a strong agricultural area. ... The soil is so rich there you can grow anything under the sun. Where you had people working in these fields and things like that when I was growing up, (now) they’ve got machine operations that does the job that people do. So there’s a lot less job opportunities. …. With things like that happening, local businesses that were thriving because you had everybody working are now closing down. …. There’s just a number of things that have happened to lessen the opportunities.
PFW: What did you take away from your trip to Ethiopia?
Boldin: For myself, I had an ability to live out a life-long dream, and that’s something I don’t take for granted, and especially I don’t take for granted now … seeing what they go through. For them, it’s just even harder to dream (past) the everyday life that they have and struggle for. I had an opportunity to talk some people, and they’re making 90 cents a day living off of 60 dollars a year. That’s to support a family. Just seeing their spirit — no matter what they go through, all the hardship, all the struggles, they still have the power and faith to just still (be) willing to get up and face life every day. There’s a lot that I took from that trip. I definitely think it was an eye-opening, life-changing experience for me.
PFW: This is your 10th NFL season. What does it mean to you to have lasted this long in such a competitive sport with short careers?
Boldin: I mean, it's a blessing. ... I've seen a lot of people come before me and after me that are not in the league at this point, so for me, it's just definitely a blessing.
PFW: What do you like about the Ravens' increased emphasis on the no-huddle?
Boldin: Well, first of all, I like the tempo. ... Whenever you go more to a more uptempo offense, defenses are less likely to bring pressure.
PFW: What's your take on how QB Joe Flacco has operated the attack?
Boldin: With Joe, he's a smart guy. It gives him a lot of control at the line of scrimmage. I think when you give a guy like that control, nine times out of 10, he's going to make the right decision. I think you saw it in the preseason, us being able to move the ball up-and-down the field, and that's a direct result of him seeing the defense and him getting us (in) the right plays.