On the night of February 7th, 2010, the New Orleans Saints celebrated their first Super Bowl victory in franchise history. Among them was starting left tackle Jermon Bushrod, who also had something else to celebrate.
That same year, along with his father, Jerry Bushrod, Jermon started the Visualize and Rize Foundation.
The Foundation’s mission is “to support youth sports and education programs, to enable students and provide them with the necessary tools to facilitate them to reach their full potential and more.”
At just 26-years-old, wrapping up his fourth year in the league, Bushrod was already giving back to the kids in his community.
That community is King George, a small, blue-collar town tucked deep in the countryside of Virginia. It’s where Jermon Bushrod was born and raised. And it’s where he began his journey to the NFL.
A three-sport athlete at King George High School, he continued his education at Towson University. During college, through unrelenting drive and self-belief, he developed himself into a legitimate professional prospect.
Then, in 2007, he became just the fifth player ever drafted out of Towson.
In his 12-year highly-decorated career, Bushrod is a two-time Pro Bowler, Super Bowl Champion, and winner of the 2018 Ed Block Courage Award.
This past week, Jermon was kind enough to answer a few questions about his journey to the NFL as well as his upcoming Visualize and Rize celebrity charity weekend.
You were a three-sport athlete at King George High School. What made you settle on football?
Football was the best opportunity for me. It was an opportunity for me to further my education at Towson University. Growing up, baseball was my passion, but football gave me the chance to go to college, get my education paid for and ultimately gave me a chance to play in the NFL.
You mentioned in a previous interview, that you didn’t really have aspirations of playing in the NFL going into college. After all, Towson wasn’t known as a football powerhouse. How did you get yourself to the point (mentally and physically) where you felt like you could make the jump to the NFL?
It was a conversation I had with my offensive line coach John Donatelli from Towson University during my red shirt sophomore year. The conversation changed my mindset as far as how important I took the game of football. Becoming a better leader on and off the field. As well as being the most dominant offensive lineman in the league. Taking my training to the next level.
On Day 2 of the 2007 NFL Draft, several teams who said they were going to take you ended up passing on you. How did that impact your mentality entering the NFL?
I didn’t have any ill feelings toward those organizations. At the end of the day it’s a business and I just didn’t fit in to their plans. I was very happy the Saints came in at the last minute and took a chance on me.
Throughout your career, you have overcome a tremendous amount of adversity. What advice do you have for young athletes out there who are going through difficult times?
Continue to keep your eyes on the prize and realize that you’re not the only athlete that’s ever going through adversity. Everyone goes through adversity. It’s all about how you respond to the adversity and find a way to not make it happen again.
You founded the Visualize and Rize Foundation along with your father back in 2010. Can you talk a little bit about why you started the Foundation and what made it so important to you?
You know it’s an obligation as professional athletes to give back, especially to the communities in which we come from. I’ve been very blessed in this league to have the opportunity to play and achieve some success. It’s only right that we return the favor and hope we can motivate someone who is coming up next to follow their dreams.
Since its inception, your Foundation has donated over $600,000 to local youth programs and organizations. How did this grow over time and what do you hope to accomplish going forward?
The short-term goal would be to continue to raise money on a yearly basis so we can bless as many people as we can.
Our long-term goals are to one day open up a Visualize and Rize Educational and Activity Center. The center will offer various education and athletic programs so we can help these kids and provide resources to get the education they need and to live a better lifestyle.
We would also like to partner with a couple organizations, or possibly join a larger organization where we have our own Visualize and Rize space.
The Visualize and Rize celebrity charity weekend draws over 1,000 attendees from across the country.
This year, confirmed celebrity attendees include Carolina Panthers wide receiver Torrey Smith, Atlanta Hawks guard Justin Anderson, New Orleans Saints safety Kurt Coleman, and retired NFL players Pierre Thomas, Tracy Porter, Fred McAfee, Roman Harper, Michael Lewis, Dion Foxx, George Coghill, and influencer Jay Oliver.
You can visit www.VisualizeandRize.org for more information and registration.