Thomas Morstead takes pride in a football résumé that boasts a Super Bowl ring and a Pro Bowl appearance, but the Saints punter becomes particularly demonstrative when talking about his efforts to better the community.
“I’m doing the job of my dreams on the field and I’m being very well-compensated, and that’s because of the tremendous, fanatical support for my team,” Morstead said. “I feel like giving back to people in this area is an obligation.”
The Saints’ 2014 Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee is hoping banquet patrons will feel equally obligated to leave generous tips Tuesday when he serves meals with past and current members of the Saints at the NFL Player’s Association of Louisiana’s Celebrity Waiters Luncheon at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.
Doors open at 11:30 a.m., and all proceeds will benefit A Child’s Wish of Louisiana, a nonprofit organization that fulfills the dreams of critically ill children.
“My wife and I try to go to just about every new restaurant in town, so I love waiters,” explained Morstead, who will work alongside Mike McKenzie, Jabari Greer and Bobby Hebert, who will also help emcee the event.
“I’ve waited (tables) before at past charity luncheons, so I’m not too worried about anything going wrong.”
The Celebrity Luncheon is Morstead’s latest altruistic adventure since launching “What You Give Will Grow” in 2012. For more than two years, his foundation has lent its support to cancer initiatives and organizations that assist underprivileged children.
Both causes are near to Morstead’s heart. His mother is a breast cancer survivor and he recently became a new dad with the birth of his son, Max, in April.
“Morstead has never shied away from an opportunity to contribute to his community,” ACW president Lenny Alsfeld said. “I think he recognizes the value of his celebrity. His personal family experiences make him appreciate each day, and his willingness to share the spotlight with activities that raise awareness is a real passion for him.”
Morstead’s charity is buoyed by donations and sales from his Sprout 6 apparel line. Clothing items come with a “GeauxGive” card designated to initiate a random act of kindness.
“Most foundations are very specific to a certain cause, but mine is more about helping individuals and various groups in need around New Orleans,” he said.
The Walter Payton award recognizes players like Morstead who impact their communities while also achieving success on the gridiron, and the Saints were another group that was appreciative of his contributions.
Morstead’s 42.9-yard net punting average led the NFC and was second-best in the NFL. The special teams stalwart was one of the bright spots on a team that finished 7-9 and missed the playoffs.
The NFL’s Man of the Year will be announced Jan. 31 during the NFL Honors awards show at 7 p.m. on NBC. The winner will receive a $25,000 donation to a charity of his choice from both the NFL Foundation and Nationwide Insurance (totaling $50,000).
“(Morstead) is certainly a person who deserves that honor,” Alsfeld said. “He is truly invested in our lives and fills our nonprofits with care and love.”
Drew Brees was the last Saint to earn the award, in 2006, and Morstead hopes to be the next.
Regardless of the outcome, Morstead plans to pay it forward for many years to come.
“I have a really sweet gig going on right now with the Saints,” he said. “The people of New Orleans support us so much, so helping others is just something I want to keep doing.”