On the field, Connor Barwin is a master at tearing down opposing offenses, wreaking havoc in the backfield by going all-out after opposing quarterbacks.
Off the field, Barwin is a master at building things up in the community.
He's beginning just his third season with the Eagles, but the All-Pro linebacker has already firmly entrenched himself in the Philadelphia community. Over the past two seasons, Barwin has raised funds for his Make The World Better (MTWB) Foundation, a charity that restores and revitalizes local parks.
On Monday, Barwin saw one of these restoration projects come to fruition, as the new-look Ralph Brooks Park opened in South Philadelphia on 20th and Tasker. This park, which cost approximately $450,000 to rejuvenate, benefited from Barwin's 2014 MTWB concert at Union Transfer, which featured Kurt Vile and the Violators, The Districts and others.
Connor Barwin helped unveil the revitalized Brooks Park in South Philadelphia, which benefited from Barwin's 2014 Make The World Better Concert ...
Barwin was on-hand for the ribbon-cutting ceremony, along with Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, Philadelphia Mural Arts representatives and many others who helped see the transformed park become a reality.
Barwin first discovered the park by riding his bicycle past it on his way to the NovaCare Complex. He knew that he would help bring about a change, but he couldn't do it alone.
"Today is a very exciting day for everybody, but when I stand here today and I look at what's happened over the last two months, there are two things that I keep thinking about that I know are true from my entire life being in sports," Barwin said to the audience. "The first thing is that you can never do anything alone, and this project was a testament to teamwork and what you can accomplish when people want to work together. This project was collaboration between foundations, artists, athletes, the public and private sectors, the water department and the community, so it goes to show you what you can accomplish when people want to work together.
"Also, on every great team that I've ever been a part of, there are standards that are set and there are leaders that uphold those standards, and I want to thank everyone that took part in this project, because this park has set the standard for MTWB and what we're going to do moving forward.
"In the last couple of months, seeing this magical garden come to life, I've had the pleasure to meet numerous leaders in this community ... and after meeting all of these people, I am confident in the standards that they are going to uphold in this neighborhood. I look forward to this becoming a special and magical place for the children of this neighborhood."
Barwin held another MTWB benefit concert this past June, and the proceeds will go to another South Philadelphia location, Smith Playground. He may be from Detroit, but Barwin is dedicated to making the world a better place, including his new home in the City of Brotherly Love.
"A lot of folks talk about what they want to do," said Mayor Nutter. "I've been involved in a number of events with Connor Barwin, and Connor Barwin talks about what he is going to do, not what he wants to do on the field, and more importantly for the rest of us, off the field."
"I am honored to have had the opportunity to work alongside some of our city's most distinguished leaders in the hopes of providing a safe and fun recreational site for our youth," said Barwin. "Ralph Brooks Park now stands as a special place in the neighborhood and one that will surely strengthen the surrounding communities. Philadelphia is my home and I take great pride in seeing it flourish. I want to thank everyone who played a role in revitalizing this park and for contributing to a project that aims to uplift the residents of this great city."