Sam Hubbard, defensive end for the Cincinnati Bengals and one of the brightest young defensive stars in the NFL is finding his charity blowing up after delivering a game changing fumble return Sunday night during the Wild Card round of the NFL Playoffs against the Baltimore Ravens.
The fifth-year player from Ohio State caught a fumble midair forced by running mate and fellow star defender Logan Wilson, and promptly rumbled 98 yards, dodging, weaving and wheezing the last twenty yards to stake the Bengals to a lead they would never relinquish.
It was a momentum stealing, game-changing play as the Ravens were about to take the lead late in the game. Now Hubbard, widely considered one of the better guys in the league, is finding his charity blowing up as a result. Check this out.
Donations have been pouring into Hubbard’s Foundation since his monumental fumble return, many coming in under 98 denominations to commemorate the 98-yard return.
As of yesterday, the foundation received over $18 thousand in donations from fans and some companies. One Cleveland shirt company is even taking a famous line from Forrest Gump and changing it to honor Hubbard with “Run, Hubbard, Run!” t-shirts. A portion of the proceeds will go to the foundation.
Run, Hubbard, Run! 🏃♂️💨
This is one of the most requested tees we’ve ever had… and we’re honored to say this tee is officially supporting the @sh94foundation. A portion of each shirt sold from https://t.co/VJSLmx1rND goes directly to their cause. #WHODEY @Sam_Hubbard_ pic.twitter.com/hWPyrr99NG
— Cincy Shirts (@CincyShirts) January 16, 2023
While these numbers aren’t Damar Hamlin numbers, Hubbard returned a fumble as opposed to almost dying on the field. However, after Hamlin’s heart incident against these same Bengals, it does show that NFL fans actually have a heart of their own. NFL fans often get a bad rap as rowdy numbskulls, but even rowdy numbskulls are willing to help a good cause when the time is right.
Of course, many are Bengal fans thankful that Hubbard helped rescue a disastrous late game scenario and assure a rematch with the Buffalo Bills. Had Logan Wilson not knocked the ball directly into the waiting hands of Sam Hubbard, Cincinnati might still be smoldering like it was summer of 2020 again. Thankfully, that did not happen, and the hated Ravens were dispatched back to Charm City (ironic nickname).
After the Bengals victory, Hubbard spoke with reporters about his playoff-changing play. “You just gotta rise to the occasion. I’m glad to be that guy that made a play to kind of change the momentum,” the defensive end said..
It also doesn’t hurt that Hubbard is just an all-around nice guy as well and someone that people want to help. He has been nominated for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award twice. The honor is given to a player who is “recognized for his excellence on and off the field,” through their philanthropy and community impact.
Our advisory board members from SugarCreek and Warm Construction are matching the next $20,000 in donations to celebrate Sam’s @NFL playoff record 98-yard touchdown return! 🟠 ⚫️ 🐅 🐯
— The Sam Hubbard Foundation (@sh94foundation) January 16, 2023
Hubbard is a native Ohioan, and starred for his in-state team in college at THE Ohio State University. He has continued his career representing his hometown team in the Bengals, and is a big part of the resurgence of the team back to national prominence. It isn’t surprising that fans have shown their appreciation in such a positive fashion. It follows the outpouring from football fans to various charities in recent years.
It’s the latest act by NFL fans in the last few years where players are being shown appreciation through donations to their charities. When Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin terrifyingly collapsed on the field a few weeks back, tens of thousands of people donated to his charity to show their support. Donations also went to Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s charity when he suffered a concussion earlier this season.
When former Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton threw a touchdown pass to help beat the Ravens and send the Bills to the playoffs in 2018, Bills fans flooded his foundation with hundreds of thousands of dollars to say thank you.
The Bills and Bengals have a special relationship in terms of fan base interaction. The respect between the two run deep but could be tested as the Bills host the Bengals in the AFC Divisional round this weekend. We will see if the donations stop pouring in after that game. For now however, everyone is winning. Except the Baltimore Ravens, of course.
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