NASHVILLE, Tenn. —
He saw the fight with breast cancer that his mother Yulinda Cook faced — and won — and developed a passion for helping others in their fights. Cook’s success on the football field further enabled his off-the-field efforts.
Cook served as a spokesperson for the 2012 “Sleep in for the Cure” held in conjunction with “Race for the Cure” by Susan G. Komen of Greater Nashville, partnered with Chick-fil-A of Brentwood to hold multiple fundraisers for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, spoke at the inaugural Titans “Football 101 for Ladies” event that raised money for the Tennessee Breast Cancer Coalition and held his annual charity basketball tournament at his high school (North Gwinnett in Suwanee, Ga.) to raise money for Susan G. Komen of Greater Atlanta.
PHOTOS: Cook in the Community
Cook’s commitment to this cause and other groups in the community were recognized Monday when he was named the 2012 Titans Walter Payton Man of the Year. Cook was chosen by a voting panel that included teammates, Titans staff, members of the media and local non-profit and community executives. The award is an annual honor bestowed on a player from each NFL team that epitomizes excellence in the community and on the field. He will be a finalist for the league-wide award that will be presented in New Orleans before Super Bowl XLVII.
“This means a lot to be selected by my peers and to be in the same class as so many Titans legends who have won this award before me,” said an emotional Cook after the announcement. “My mom always told me that when you’re afforded the opportunity to do something to help others, you should do it and that’s always been my motivation. A lot of this work has been for my mom. I do it all for her as well as to help others!”
Titans Senior Executive Vice President/COO Mike Reinfeldt announced the news at a press conference and said Cook is deserving of the “very prestigious” award.
Cook was selected from a group of eligible finalists that included
“(They) were all very worthy of it,” Reinfeldt said. “It was a very close ballot, very intense and we had a number of players that were very, very worthy of this award.”
Titans Owner and President K.S. “Bud” Adams, Jr., said he is proud of the players for the work they’ve done in the community.
“I’m proud of Jared and also of the other nominated players who have done such a tremendous job of serving so many in our community,” Adams said. “His work in the community, especially his dedication to raising awareness and funding for breast cancer research, is very commendable. It is very important to me that everyone in the Titans organization realizes that they have an opportunity at some level to assist those less fortunate and Cook’s efforts are truly deserving of this honor. He joins an elite group of players from our past to be honored as the Titans Community Man of the Year.”
In addition to his help in fighting breast cancer, Cook also participated in Nashville’s City of Hope Celebrity Softball Challenge, raised money for Sonja Davis in the Leukemia Lymphoma Society’s “Woman of the Year" contest, kicked off the Titans PLAY 60 partnership with the state of Tennessee, and made numerous visits to schools to stress the importance of eating healthy foods and deploying good study habits.
Cook was selected by the Titans in the third round of the 2009 NFL draft and has delivered dynamic plays. He caught an 18-yard touchdown against Indianapolis Sunday but suffered a season-ending torn rotator cuff injury later in the game. Cook’s season ended with 44 catches for 523 yards and four touchdowns. He has 131 career receptions for 1,717 yards in four seasons.
Cook was disappointed by this season ending early, but is determined to keep up his work in the community as he bounces back from injury.
“I’m just very thankful for this award, especially the circumstances that came with it, me doing a lot of work for my mom in the community and being able to get her story out,” Cook said. “I was up against a lot of tough guys on the team, and their work doesn’t go unnoticed. They put a lot of heart and time in the community as well, and kudos to them. I just want to thank the Titans for selecting me and making me part of this award.”