“It’s something you never forget,” said Cook. “It’s an experience as a child you look back on for the rest of your life. That’s where you want to be. That’s where you project yourself, so to meet the guys who are actually doing it and you watch on Sundays, there’s no feeling that describes it.”
That experience was courtesy of a middle school friend whose father, a safety for the Falcons, gave field passes to his son and a few friends, one of whom was Cook. But Cook realizes not everyone can come to a game or have friends with NFL connections, so he goes to the kids.
“It gives you a chance to touch people who might not get a chance to come see you play or get a chance to meet you,” said Cook. “That’s what I love about it.”
That desire to meet people in the community has led to involvement in several offseason off the field initiatives and earned him this season’s first Community Player of the Week award.
“Jared has been an incredible addition to the Rams and the St. Louis community,” said Rams Vice President of Corporate Communications and Civic Affairs Molly Higgins. “He’s a guy that really appreciates the opportunity he has to make a difference and is always willing to assist with a variety of our community outreach efforts. Since joining the Rams, he has been very active with breast cancer awareness efforts as a son of a survivor and has also become a significant contributor to the work that KidSmart is doing in equipping children in need with free school supplies, so they can focus on learning. The service that KidSmart provides to underserved students is so critical and to have Jared as such a passionate supporter of their work really makes a meaningful difference in the lives of more than 90,000 local students.”
“I enjoy giving my time back,” said Cook. “We’ve been blessed and put in situations where we can just go back and give to people in need. That’s what you’re supposed to do, give back to where you’re playing, do God’s will and do what’s right.”
The President of KidSmart, Jennifer Miller, remembers a school visit Jared Cook did on the organization's behalf. She said he was helping pass out jump ropes and stayed until he was able to personally give one to every kid and say something special to each one of them.
“We’ve never had that happen,” said Miller. “That’s huge for those kids to understand that here is this giant and hero and this successful athlete, who doesn’t know them, taking time out to say to them ‘you’re important, I believe in you, stay in school.’ That’s one of the coolest moments I’ve witnessed.”
Cook emphasized how much he loves those influential moments interacting with kids face to face.
“When you see their faces,” said Cook with a smile “and you tell them you’re a football player and you see their faces light up, it’s something that can’t even be described.”
And who knows, maybe one of those kids will grow up to stand on the Rams' field someday talking about their work in the community because of the impact of the first time they met an NFL player. And his name was Jared Cook.
About the Rams Community Player of the Week
Each week during the 2014 season, the St. Louis Rams will select a player who has made a positive impact on the Greater St. Louis community, giving of himself off the field. Each honored Rams Community Player of the Week will receive a gift certificate to Ruth’s Chris Steak House, the Official Steak House of the St. Louis Rams.