New York's Justin Hardee Named Week 3 NFLPA Community MVP
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Justin Hardee has been named the Week 3 NFLPA Community MVP after he donated $5,000 worth of school supplies to more than 150 at-risk youth at the Boys & Girls Club of Newark, New Jersey.
“I’m truly honored to be recognized as the NFLPA Community MVP,” Hardee said. “When I was younger, I always told myself if I was to ever make it, that I would come back and be a bridge builder to the youth.”
On September 18, through his Hardee Cares Foundation, the New York Jets defensive back made a surprise visit to Newark-based kids, who reside in some of the most impoverished areas in the country. During the special back-to-school event, Hardee handed out backpacks filled with classroom essentials, spent time with the students and spoke about how hard work can take them a long way.
Hardee, who earned NFLPA Players’ All-Pro honors last season, is making a point to touch the lives of youth in the cities that have played a role in his football journey. In August, he hosted another giveaway in his hometown of Cleveland, where 200-plus backpacks were distributed. He also provided pizza and free haircuts to help local kids get ready for the upcoming school year.
From an undrafted rookie in 2017 to a Pro Bowler in 2022, Hardee attributes his drive to his mother, who taught him the importance of a strong work ethic and giving back before she passed away in 2013 from sarcoidosis. Through the Hardee Cares Foundation, he has continued his mother’s legacy, connecting with the communities that helped him succeed through a mission of youth empowerment, education, fitness through sports and sarcoidosis awareness.
“It’s a blessing to give back,” Hardee said, “and I’m proud to use my platform and foundation to make these impacts.”
This summer, Hardee hosted his annual youth football training camp in Cleveland and visited local high school football teams in the North Jersey area. Additionally, after learning about the devastation left by the Maui wildfires, the seventh-year veteran created a T-shirt (“From Darkness To The Big Apple”) that is now on sale and donates a percentage of all proceeds to the Maui Fire and Disaster Relief Foundation.
Prior to joining the Jets in 2021, Hardee proved just as active in the community during his four seasons with the New Orleans Saints. He annually participated in a Thanksgiving holiday food drive, where he helped hand out grocery bags of items to more than 1,000 people. For Christmas, Hardee hosted a “Shop with a Jock” event, surprising local kids with $100 gift cards and, with the help of then-teammates Marshon Lattimore and Ted Ginn Jr., picked out gifts to put under the Christmas tree.
In honor of Hardee being named this week’s Community MVP, the NFLPA is making a $10,000 contribution to his foundation or charity of choice. In turn, Hardee will take part in a virtual or in-person visit to a school or children’s hospital. Along with the other 2023-24 Community MVPs, he will also become eligible for this year’s Alan Page Community Award, which is the highest honor that the NFLPA can bestow upon a player.
Now in its 10th season, the Community MVP campaign is part of the NFLPA’s continued efforts to support the year-round, civic outreach and engagement of its player members. Please visit the NFLPA Community MVP website to learn more about the program.
About the NFL Players Association:
The National Football League Players Association is the union for professional football players in the National Football League. Established in 1956, the NFLPA has a long history of assuring proper recognition and representation of players’ interests. The NFLPA has shown that it will do whatever is necessary to assure that the rights of players are protected—including ceasing to be a union, if necessary, as it did in 1989. In 1993, the NFLPA again was officially recognized as the union representing the players and negotiated a landmark Collective Bargaining Agreement with the NFL. The current CBA will govern the sport through the 2030 NFL season. Learn more at www.nflpa.com.