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Local golf outing raises funds for former Michigan football players in need

Former Wolverines in Grand Rapids to take part
First-ever 'For Those Who Stayed' Golf Outing
Posted at 6:51 PM, Jul 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-12 23:03:23-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — From afar, Monday's golf outing at Thousand Oaks Golf Club looked like any other but it was much more than that.

"We've created a network where former Michigan players can come back," said former Michigan wide receiver, Braylon Edwards.

136 golfers took to the course on Monday, 70 of them were former football players at The University of Michigan.

"For Those Who Stayed" Golf Outing

All were there to help support the non-profit organization 'For Those Who Stayed'.

"Not everybody made the pros if you will," said Russell Davis, who played in the 1970s for the Wolverines and also spent five seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL, "wherever we can help out, that's what the organization is about."

Andrea Arnold of Grand Rapids started the organization back in 2018 to help former Michigan football players with anything they need, from mental health services to dental implants and everything in between.

First-ever 'For Those Who Stayed' golf outing

"I know what these guys go through and what happens to them after they leave," Arnold said, who spent ten years in college football recruiting, "it was time to step up and take care of them."

There is the stigma of college football players have life put together even after they're done playing but that can be completely false.

Even former standout and No. 3 overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft Braylon Edwards admits there's a roller coaster ride after leaving the game.

Braylon Edwards
Braylon Edwards speaks with another golfer at Monday's golf outing at Thousand Oaks Golf Club.

"When you're done with the sport of football or any sport, you deal with depression, deal with anxiety, you deal with the loss of brotherhood and you try to find yourself," he admitted. "This is a great space for those guys to come back and help each other."

Due to COVID-19, Monday was the first-ever golf outing for the organization and the response was overwhelming.

"The minute things started to open up again, I made a phone call and locked it in for this July," Arnold smiled, "and we have been telling guys on email and Facebook and they're calling each other, it's been unbelievable."

Arnold says her and her staff had to close registration for the outing because the response was so strong.

"They would have been out there all day if we kept it open," she laughed.

First-ever 'For Those Who Stayed' golf outing

The outing feature players from several different generations, including the 1960s all the way up to the more recent graduates like Edwards and new Pro Football Hall-of-Famer, Ty Law.

"Just to come up here and feel this energy, guys that you played with, guys that you knew that you looked up to at Michigan that you didn't get a chance to play with, guys that were behind you, this is a great day today," the No. 23 overall draft pick in the 1994 NFL Draft added.

And that collaboration only added to a very special day for everyone involved.

"It's a situation where you're bridging guys from the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and 2000s and we're bringing them together," Edwards added, "we may not have played together but we're all Michigan men, so it's a lot of fun."

Russell Davis shares a hug at Monday's golf outing
Former Michigan football player Russell Davis shares a hug during Monday's golf outing.

While some players at Monday's outing went on to have long and successful NFL careers, a lot of their teammates didn't and that was their focus for the fundraiser.

"A lot of people don't know," Arnold said, "just because they saw their name under the lights at the Big House doesn't mean their lives are set forever, some of the stories that come to me are heartbreaking."

Between the golf outing and the live auction which featured a Charles Woodson signed helmet, Tom Brady signed helmet, and much more, Arnold estimates the organization raised over $15,000.

The proceeds will go help those former players that are now struggling in certain areas but also to the Heart of a Champion research fund for heart disease.

Find more information on 'For Those Who Stayed' by clicking here.