There are Hollywood boot camps available to NFL players with the acting bug and broadcast boot camps to help them prepare for a second career as a commentator.
As of now, there’s little available to assist young players in navigating philanthropic possibilities or to help them establish a charitable foundation, but Anquan Boldin wants to change that.
“I get so many young guys who come up to me for advice on how to start – that’s why we’re doing this,” said the 49ers wide receiver who plans to establish such a camp this offseason. “Help is only a phone call away. Go straight to the source instead of making mistakes. I’ve been in the league 13 years and I’m still learning, but I know a lot more than I did back then.”
Boldin’s organization, Q81, is active everywhere he has played during his career: In Arizona, Baltimore, the Bay Area and his hometown of Pahokee, Fla. It awards college scholarships and has worked with Oxfam America, Wounded Warriors and the United Way campaigns.
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Boldin has been recognized over the years, including in 2014 with the NFL Players Association’s Byron “Whizzer” White Award given for community service. But on Saturday he may get his brightest exposure yet at the NFL Honors show that begins at 6 p.m. on CBS. For the second straight year, Boldin is a finalist for the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year award.
It could be a big night for the Bay Area teams:
▪ Former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr. will learn whether he will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame after falling short four times.
“It would be the culmination of all that is good over my lifetime as an owner,” he said last month. “ ... All I can do is hope and pray that I can join these great people and great athletes.”
▪ Former Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler, who died of colon cancer last year, is one of two senior finalists for the Hall of Fame. After his death, Stabler’s brain was examined, and researchers determined he had advanced stages of the brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) that has afflicted many ex-players.
▪ Former 49ers wide receiver Terrell Owens, in his first year of eligibility, also has a chance to be enshrined in Canton, Ohio. Owens caught 592 passes for 8,572 yards and scored 83 touchdowns in eight seasons in San Francisco. But he also was blamed for the locker-room discord that ushered his exit from the team.
Boldin, who wears the same number Owens wore with the 49ers, 81, said he plans to launch his latest idea this offseason during a trip to Uganda. The goal is to take younger players with him, not only to learn about issues in that nation, but to teach them how to get involved and to help them avoid the missteps he had when he began his foundation in 2004.
Boldin took a step in that direction Thursday by organizing a panel discussion in San Francisco with other NFL players who are well-versed in giving back.
The group included teammate Torrey Smith, who helps underprivileged youth; ex-49ers and current Titans tight end Delanie Walker, who works with Mothers Against Drunk Driving; and recently retired Raiders defensive lineman Justin Tuck, whose group fights illiteracy.
One of the topics discussed was the challenge of maintaining roots in a community in a profession that sometimes requires abrupt moves to other parts of the country. Boldin, for example, was traveling in Africa with Oxfam America in 2013 when he learned the Ravens had traded him to the 49ers.
Another topic: doing a better job of sharing information with other players and pooling resources.
“You don’t have to reinvent the wheel,” Tuck said.
Boldin noted that many athletes try to avoid the spotlight and that their instinct is to do their charity work anonymously. But he said the impact is greater when they utilize their celebrity and exposure, something the Super Bowl and awards show will do.
“The easiest way is to leverage the platform we’re on,” he said. “For some reason, people want to listen to what we say. People are here because we’re here.”
More reading: Anquan Boldin’s roots run deep, about what motivates his philanthropic work.