My dear friend and eco-hero, Ovie Mughelli was released by the Atlanta Falcons earlier this year. He will now begin a new chapter of his life with his wonderful wife Masika and his two daughters.
Ovie Mughelli was dubbed the greenest NFL player, and the second overall professional athlete behind race car driver Leilani Munter (and ahead of Lance Armstrong). Ovie quickly became one of my best friends after first meeting him at an Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper River Revival event. It was only his second day in Atlanta as he was heading to his first training camp as an Atlanta Falcon.
From the moment I met Ovie I was impressed with his exceptional character and personality, and his infectious ever present smile which was never superficial but seemed to well up from deep inside him. I was also blown away with the fact that Ovie was so generous with his time, talent and treasure. He started his foundation in his early 20′s to benefit underserved, at-risk youth in his home town of Charleston. By providing scholarships to hundreds of girls and boys, he gave them the opportunity to learn, to appreciate and play the game of football at summer camp, when there was little else for these kids to do. He also taught these kids about the environment. These kids learned about source separating, recycling and other environmental issues to encourage smart, responsible stewardship.
Over the past several years we have been working to the same ends and our paths would cross expectedly at all environmental events many of which we cohosted and unexpectedly (which was every other green event in town). On Earth Day on the Mall in Washington DC this past April, Ovie braved, in typical NFL fashion, the cold and rainy weather to speak in his green velvet jacket to a global online audience of millions. As always, he spoke as a loving, caring and devoted father about the necessity of taking care of the planet and its life support systems for children. He never spoke about how big his hot tub was, or how grand his house or car was, but of changing out lightbulbs to be more energy efficient, painting with non-toxic paints, and the importance of teaching our children how to be good stewards of God’s creation. He spent time organizing and competing in the recycling relay at EarthDay Kids fest. He received many accolades and awards, including Captain Planet Foundation’s “Superhero for Earth”. Most recently, he traveled to the White House, he has been working with the EPA and gave a speech at the Green Sports Summit. He is still working to green his beloved sport which is lagging behind other professional sports.
I say when you decide to retire from the NFL, that running for the Senate would be a good option! We need more people like you representing the voiceless, our children, as it relates to health, quality of life and their future.