Grady Jarrett didn’t join the Falcons for voluntary workouts. But he was certainly busy off the field, both preparing for the season and doing good in the community.
I caught up with Jarrett last week as he prepared to participate in the Rally Foundation’s annual Rally on the Runway event. Rally Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that uses funds raised to support children fighting cancer and their families.
Jarrett and I have both been supporting the work of the Rally Foundation for some time now. I’ll let him explain why.
“It’s a wonderful organization, a wonderful cause and it’s helped a lot of people and a lot of families,” Jarrett said. And they’re always looking to make progress and find a better tomorrow fighting the cancer that’s hurting our young people. I can’t do anything but get behind that and support that and these great people. So I’m definitely happy to be a partner with them.
Rally on the Runway is an annual fundraising event where Rally Kids (children who have fought or are currently fighting childhood cancers) join up with NFL players and other celebrities to walk the runway in the latest fashions.
“This one is super, super fun, especially for the kids, and they come out and they’re looking good, and it makes them feel good,” Jarrett said. “And when you feel good, you’re able to pick up that motivation to fight your fight, and you just get a little a little break from the things you’re going through day in and day out. It’s fun for me and other players that have volunteered over the years to be able to spend time with the kids and the families and make some bonds that will last for a long time. I mean, it’s just definitely positive all around.”
His support of Rally Foundation isn’t the only charitable cause Jarrett is working on. He’s also got a fundraiser coming up for his own foundation — a celebrity Top Golf tournament.
“It’s gonna be the fourth or fifth year in a row we did Top Golf, and it’s been awesome,” Jarrett said. “It’s fundraising for us, and people have fun. I like to have some of my teammates come out and some other players from around the league and, you know, former players and young players coming together and just come have a good time.”
You can check out Jarrett’s personal philanthropy through his Instagram account for Team Grady Gives.
Jarrett also helped with a new initiative from Visa this offseason teaching helpful information about finances and money management to young men.
“That was something new that I got involved in, ran by Visa, and they did a really great job of teaching some high school kids at an early age, before they get out and enter the workforce about the importance of money, and just certain things you don’t have classes on in the school curriculum, teaching how to write checks, how to apply for a place to rent, when you’re gonna get an apartment, stuff like that,” Jarrett said. “And we’re just teaching them the basics of finances and stuff like that. So that was definitely something cool to get involved in, and it was fun, how they did everything and made it competitive.”
So Jarrett has had a lot going on this offseason, but don’t worry, he’s been putting in that work to prepare for the season, too.
“I’m training day in and day out — conditioning, strength workouts, drills — you know, just to be sure I’m ready to go when training camp comes around,” Jarrett said. “And this a ramp-up stage. I started training at the end of January this year, and so I’ve been going ever since, but also, this is my routine of I’m never going to take too long off. That doesn’t mean that I’m just going balls to the wall, you know, grinding or wearing my body down, but that’s training in a way of recovery from last season and transitioning into that preparation and build up stage, getting ready for training camp. And so it’s been it’s been an awesome training season and just staying on my program.”
Jarrett, who ended up becoming one of the better interior defensive linemen in the NFL, fell all the way to the fifth round in the 2015 NFL Draft, probably because he lacks the prototypical size teams expect from a defensive tackle. His house also burned down on the first night of the draft, which made the whole experience even more memorable (thankfully his family was OK and nobody was seriously hurt). Jarrett had some advice for the young men who are looking toward their professional future in the NFL.
“Just enjoy the process. It’s so unpredictable. It’s gonna be guys projected to go in the first round falling to the fifth, guys they didn’t expect to get drafted will get drafted and vice versa,” Jarrett said. Whether you go where you want to or not, just enjoy the process. And just be thankful that you in a position to be excited about the weekend coming up. I think everything else will take care of itself.”
Jarrett’s off-the-field support of Rally Foundation will continue, and if you are so inclined, he encourages you to check out Rally and see if their mission is something you’d like to support as well.
“The fans can best support rally foundation by doing some research first, I think, and seeing some of the good that they’ve done,” Jarrett said. “And, you know, if you’re willing to give in your heart, donate to the foundation. And also, you know, just be willing to give in whichever way that is or you know, finding some of these kids =in the program and pouring into them personally, you know, sending them some encouragement. It doesn’t have to be material, but just some love, that somebody’s thinking about them as an encouragement. That’d be an awesome way they can get involved with the Rally Foundation.”
Rally Kid Caroline is a great example. Caroline has been a Rally kid since she was three years old. Her cancer went into remission, but it came back in 2021. Thankfully, Rally was funding a clinical trial that could help Caroline, and they were able to get her into the trial.
I asked how it felt for her to participate in Rally on the Runway knowing that the money raised would help other kids like her get healthy and beat cancer.
“Absolutely amazing,” she said.
Grady Jarrett agrees.
You can check out the great work of Rally Foundation via their website.