Said without irony: I mean it. The Giants sign an undrafted star, and the suspicion is that they selected him because of his character as well as his talent.
"Every year, the NFL draft comes and goes, and there is a legion of players left overlooked or ignored, every one with a familiar dream. Some latch on with teams as undrafted free agents. One of them, signed by the Giants, has a story that took social media by storm and resonated with many for all the right reasons.
Travis Rudolph, a receiver from Florida State, garnered national attention with a simple act of kindness. Last August, Rudolph, along with several of his Seminoles teammates, visited a middle school in Tallahassee to mingle with students. Rudolph noticed a young boy sitting off to the side, eating lunch at a table by himself, walked over and sat down.
The boy, Bo Paske, is autistic, and Rudolph sat and befriended him, making sure Paske would not eat lunch alone. A parent took a picture and it went viral, as did the heartfelt Facebook post of appreciation by Paske’s mother, Leah, who called Rudolph a hero
Rudolph caught 153 passes for 2,311 yards and 18 touchdowns at Florida State and will try to make an impression with the Giants. He approached the draft with a heavy heart after his father, Darryl Rudolph, tragically was killed in an accidental shooting last month."
From Bo Paske's mother, back in August, 2016
Several times lately I have tried to remember my time in middle school, did I like all my teachers, do I even remember them? Did I have many friends? Did I sit with anyone at lunch? Just how mean were kids really? I remember one kid on the bus called me "Tammy Fay Baker" bc I started awkwardly wearing eye liner in the sixth grade, I remember being tough and calling him a silly name back, but when he couldn't see me anymore I cried. I do remember middle school being scary, and hard. Now that I have a child starting middle school, I have feelings of anxiety for him, and they can be overwhelming if I let them. Sometimes I'm grateful for his autism. That may sound like a terrible thing to say, but in some ways I think, I hope, it shields him. He doesn't seem to notice when people stare at him when he flaps his hands. He doesn't seem to notice that he doesn't get invited to birthday parties anymore. And he doesn't seem to mind if he eats lunch alone. It's one of my daily questions for him. Was there a time today you felt sad? Who did you eat lunch with today? Sometimes the answer is a classmate, but most days it's nobody. Those are the days I feel sad for him, but he doesn't seem to mind. He is a super sweet child, who always has a smile and hug for everyone he meets. A friend of mine sent this beautiful picture to me today and when I saw it with the caption "Travis Rudolph is eating lunch with your son" I replied "who is that?" He said "FSU football player", then I had tears streaming down my face. Travis Rudolph, a wide receiver at Florida State, and several other FSU players visited my sons school today. I'm not sure what exactly made this incredibly kind man share a lunch table with my son, but I'm happy to say that it will not soon be forgotten. This is one day I didn't have to worry if my sweet boy ate lunch alone, because he sat across from someone who is a hero in many eyes. Travis Rudolph thank you so much, you made this momma exceedingly happy, and have made us fans for life!
I remember extending a hand of friendship to the "dorks" of my childhood, a gesture that earned me the scorn of some of my peers and, for that matter, the rejection of my approach by a few of the "dorks" themselves,.who were doubtless exhausted from dealing with bullies and suspicious of anyone who approached them (and just to be honest here, I also remember inviting one of those kids to my house after school and when he left, thinking,"no wonder no one likes him".)
But although I can identify with Rudolph, a football star befriending a lonely child is on a different level. I hope that his future will be as bright as his bright, shining heart is now.