DALLAS — Dallas Cowboys center Travis Frederick is emulating an off-field example former tight end Jason Witten set during his 15-year career.
In a 24-hour span, the All-Pro center held his second annual golf outing for his eponymous Blocking Out Hunger Foundation on May 15, then announced the formation of Travis' Pantry, a community outreach program that will debut fall at Mesquite ISD's Dr. Linda Henrie Elementary, and concluded the evening going yard for The Salvation Army in the Cowboys' seventh annual home run derby at Dr. Pepper Ballpark in Frisco.
"I think it's really important for us as players when we have a platform like we do to use it for good," Frederick said on what motivates him to demonstrably give back at a high level. "There are so many people that want to be helpful and who are also super fans of the Dallas Cowboys. So, when you have those fans that are willing to help out, and when you can mold that and shape that into helping the community, I think everybody wins."
The fervor which Frederick displayed over the two days was reminiscent of Witten, who had his SCORE Foundation and would hold two youth football camps, one in the Metroplex and the other in his hometown of Elizabethton, Tennessee, along with his club specific outreach events, which also included the annual home run derby.
Catching up with Witten at his first Dallas youth football camp as a former Cowboy, the 11-time Pro Bowler spoke about his off-field legacy and the example he set.
"I think that it's hard for any one man to describe what his legacy is, but I just try to do it the right way," Witten said. "There's not a blueprint to how you go about it. Certainly in today's era that we live in and social media, often times it's tough. It's tough environment to do it. Look. I had people who invested in me and allowed me to chase my dreams. Certainly I want to do the same for some of these kids here."
Witten has been partnering with ProCamps since 2010.
Said Witten: "This is something that I always circled on my calendar even when the whirlwind that I've gone through. It's great to be in the moment and inspire them and encourage them in so many different ways."
Frederick acknowledged that Witten had an influence on how he conducts his community outreach.
Said Frederick: "I think the things that Jason has done for us will live on for a long time. I like to say that a little bit of Witt lives on in the guys who have been under his tutelage, so it's our job to take that standard that he set and pass it on to the younger guys."
Over 30 of Frederick's teammates showed up to his golfing event at Topgolf in The Colony. Through live and silent auctions, the Cowboys and their fans raised $90,000 for the Blocking Out Hunger Foundation.
"I think it's really awesome that my teammates come out and support me for what I do with the Blocking Out Hunger Foundation," said Frederick. "But really I think that speaks to the quality of guys that we have in our locker room. All I had to do was ask them if they would be interested in coming out to Topgolf and they said, 'What time?'
One teammate told WFAA that Frederick has such a presence in the locker room that anyone asked to attend felt very honored and wouldn't want to let him down. No doubt All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith would attend along with right guard Zack Martin and right tackle La'el Collins. After all, the Dallas offensive line's camaraderie is notorious. But the presence of starting quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott, along with defensive players ranging from Tyrone Crawford to Jeff Heath, underscored how respected the 2013 first-round pick from Wisconsin is at The Star in Frisco.
At Dr. Linda Henrie Elementary, Frederick fielded questions from eight lucky students as he addressed the student body. He also shared with them the significance of good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle. Frederick also led the 950 students in 15 jumping jacks, his favorite exercise. After slapping high fives with every kid, he gave them a bag with healthy snacks that included juice, apples, granola bars, and fruit snacks.
"I'm really fortunate to have a platform to stand on and do something, and I know, as an NFL player, I was going to have some platform and I needed to do something with it," Frederick said. "But here in Dallas it's bigger than it possibly could have been anywhere else. Not only do we have great visibility nationwide, but the people of Dallas are so giving and generous."
How do you feel about the on and off field leadership for the Cowboys with Jason Witten heading into retirement? Share your thoughts with Mark on Twitter @therealmarklane.