Mother’s Day Remains Special for NFL Moms

By Joe Frollo (USA Football)Pauline Pope-Crowder can’t think of a better way to spend an afternoon than sitting in the stands watching her son play football. From the Atlanta municipal parks, where Channing Crowder grew up to the NFL stadiums where he now plays for the Miami Dolphins, Pauline enjoys looking out onto the field and seeing her baby run around, make tackles and enjoy the game he loves. On Mother’s Day this weekend, the Crowders will get together at a restaurant or at Channing’s South Florida home for a big meal, then talk the day away as they do every year. That’s when Pauline is proudest of her family – whether it is her youngest child Channing or her two daughters, all of whom make every day the family gets together feel like Mother’s Day. “Channing is impulsive, so he may decide we go out, stay in or try something new for Sunday,” Pauline said. “You just never know what we’ll do until we do it. He’s always been like that. He’s very considerate. We don’t do anything traditional for Mother’s Day but we always do something together.” Channing Crowder may be a 6-foot-2, 250-pound veteran linebacker to NFL fans, but Pauline can’t help watching him with mother’s eyes, remembering how he was even as he sacks the quarterback or makes a big stop on third-and-short. “People look at him and see this big, tough, rough 250-pound guy, but when I look at him, I see this little fellow I’ve always known,” Pauline said. “I’ve got a cute picture of him when he was little, and that’s how I want to think of him. It’s a mother thing.”Pauline Crowder is a member of the Professional Football Players Mothers Association (PFPMA), a non-profit organization of NFL players’ mothers who assist in their sons’ charitable endeavors. A USA Football partner since 2008, PFPMA lends advice to youth football parents and players through USA Football events and The mothers also support charities for at-risk youth and disadvantaged communities.Gwendolyn Jenkins also is a member of the PFPMA. She won’t spend Mother’s Day with her son, Malcolm, as he rehabs a knee injury in hopes of returning to the New Orleans Saints after the labor negotiation ends. That doesn’t mean she isn’t thinking of him. “Mother’s Day is a special time when we honor all the women in our family, not just myself,” said Gwendolyn, who also has two other sons, both younger than Malcolm, a third-year safety with New Orleans. “When it comes to my children, it’s a time to say ‘thank you’ to what Mom and Grandma and others have meant to them.” Gwendolyn still lives in the Piscataway, N.J., home where Malcolm grew up. She will spend Mother’s Day with her entire family, attending religious service where her own mother sings in the choir, then going out for lunch together. Gwendolyn expects a call from Malcolm along with flowers or candy. She understands her son is busy strengthening his knee and also getting ready for his July 15 wedding. “I’m going there soon to see him and looking forward to my soon-to-be daughter-in-law,” Gwendolyn said. “Right now, I’m working closely with Malcolm as he starts a foundation to assist youth in New Jersey, New Orleans and Columbus (where he attended Ohio State). He has made a commitment to give back financially and with his time to kids to help them achieve higher goals. A mother couldn’t be prouder than that.” Pauline Crowder also shines when talking about her son giving back to the South Florida community. Whether by participating in Read Across America and or by mentoring a high school student who now attends college in part because of Channing’s help, Pauline has followed her son’s charity work as closely as Dolphins fans follow his play on Sundays. “Things like that make me more proud than any of the on-the-field stuff,” Pauline said. “You always want your children to be successful in what they do, but you also want to see that they make a good impact on the community around them.”