Rodney McLeod's impactful work in the community was once again on center stage as the safety was named the recipient of the 2022 NFLPA Alan Page Community Award in Los Angeles, the site of Super Bowl LVI, on Wednesday.
As the NFLPA's highest honor, the Alan Page Community Award annually recognizes one player who demonstrates a profound dedication to positively impacting his team's city and communities across the country, following in the spirit of the Pro Football Hall of Famer and social pioneer for whom the award is named. Each year's winner is selected by their NFL peers, who cast their vote for one of the award's five finalists via electronic ballot.
McLeod is the third Eagle in the past six years to capture the award, along with Malcolm Jenkins (2017) and Chris Long (2018). Brian Dawkins and Troy Vincent are also previous recipients.
"I am humbled to receive such a prestigious award," McLeod said. "This award is truly all about the community; and when I hear the word 'community,' unity, hope, and love also come to mind."
In December, McLeod hosted his Change Our Future Foundation's inaugural Art & Sole Sneaker Ball, where more than $205,000 was raised to update STEM and Black history curriculum in local schools. The event also collected 150 toys and 250 new pairs of shoes to donate to families in need for the holidays.
This past fall, he adopted Constitution High School and Hill-Freedman World Academy, pledging $20,000 toward educational programs, focus groups, and curriculum. To maximize the impact of this funding, McLeod held a listening session with students during his school visit to gather feedback on their areas of need.
McLeod was also involved in the launch of the Eagles' End Philly Gun Violence campaign at the start of 2022 as part of the Eagles Social Justice Leadership Council. The Eagles Social Justice Fund of the Philadelphia Foundation awarded $316,600 in grants to 32 Philadelphia nonprofits committed to serving the region through specialized social justice work.
"Ever since I arrived in Philadelphia as a free agent in 2016, this has been my home," said McLeod, who was the team's nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award in 2020. "It hurts to see so much heartache and suffering in our communities as a result of these senseless acts of violence. We are losing family members, friends, mentors, role models, and future leaders because of the gun violence in our streets. No one should ever have to live in fear of going to school, hanging out at the playground, or just walking out the front door. Yet, for so many in our communities, they do."
The NFLPA recognized McLeod's charitable outreach work last season as well, naming him one of the weekly Community MVPs.
McLeod delivered 40,000 pounds of fresh food to the local Share Food program and provided voter registration on site to families. Additionally, he donated $25,000 to Philabundance during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic to provide meals for those struggling with hunger.
"I hope stories like mine will inspire others to pour back into their communities, forming leaders of change," McLeod said. "Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much."
All of McLeod's efforts stem from the mission of his foundation, Change Our Future, which he co-founded in 2020 with his wife, Erika. Together, their goal is to empower others through education, advocacy, and awareness in the areas of youth development, healthy lifestyles, and community enrichment.
"Unfortunately, it took a pandemic to provide the time and attention to fully grasp what was happening in society. We had no distractions. The world was so still that we had to endure all of it. People started to take a deeper dive into understanding why the Black community was so frustrated," McLeod said in a first-person essay when he was named the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year nominee.
"It felt like a calling to me. I felt like I had to do more. I had to be a voice for my community. That's something that I learned from Malcolm Jenkins, a former nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award. I didn't realize that I had a voice that would echo to so many people. I couldn't just sit back and do the bare minimum. I had to stand up for what I believe and what's right. I think I owed that to everyone who looks like me. At the end of the day, it all comes down to respect – respect and regard for every single person, every single community. If we had that mindset, the world would be a different place. If we had respect for everyone, there would not be all of these disparities that we're trying to remedy, whether it's jobs, education, food, housing, the list goes on."
In recognition, the NFLPA will donate $100,000 to McLeod's Change Our Future Foundation.