The summer of 2020 will be remembered for a lot of things. Unfortunately, it’s been a series of events that we’d all like to forget - a pandemic with no end in sight, racial tensions at a boiling point, and skyrocketing unemployment at its highest since 2010.
For our area’s teenagers, the uncertainty surrounding the future has been especially troubling. Many of their days have been spent wondering if they would go back to school. Would there be football? Are they safe to return to either of those time-tested institutions?
To say they’ve been on a wild roller coaster ride of emotions would be an understatement. But through it all, we’ve seen our community at its best. Many area churches and charitable organizations have come together to help provide the basic necessities for those who need it most.
That includes our sports heroes. Earlier this summer, Dallas Cowboys tailback Ezekiel Elliott stepped forward to help provide some hope and inspiration to the football team at South Oak Cliff High School. After taking a short tour, he addressed the team and spoke about the importance of staying in school and persevering through the tough times.
In an interview with NBC5, South Oak Cliff head coach Jason Todd said, “It’s not often you get one of the top running backs in the NFL to come to your school. As a high school kid and you know it’s a guy who these kids see every Sunday on TV that they were actually in the same room with."
Elliott, 25, enters his fifth NFL season — all with the Cowboys. He is a three-time Pro Bowl selection, including the 2019 season that saw him take 301 carries for 1,357 yards (4.5 average) and 12 touchdowns. In all 16 games, Elliott also caught 54 passes for 420 yards (7.8 average) and two touchdowns.
Besides providing inspiration, Zeke also donated some of his Cowboys athletic apparel, including cleats.
“We have some kids that are economically challenged and in need of things like that," said Todd. "It was actually a bonus because those kids were actually able to receive some of the things we often take for granted.”
Elliott was happy to bring some cheer to the kids and hopes it will be the beginning of a memorable season, especially for the seniors. "It was a joy to be able to surprise the South Oak Cliff football team with some new sneakers and outfits. It's important to uplift our communities," he said.
Indeed. In a year that will be remembered for its trials and tribulations, it was like Christmas in July – and a day these kids will never forget.