Although the season opener is more than four months away, Ravens defensive end Michael McCrary stood on the 50-yard line of PSINet Stadium yesterday, delivering his first contribution of the year.
The two-time Pro Bowl performer established a nonprofit foundation called Mac's Miracle Fund, with an initial offering of $100,000 that will go directly to Special Olympics Maryland.
It's the largest charitable donation by a Ravens player in franchise history. The amount also represents the biggest single gift by a professional athlete to an individual Special Olympics program throughout the world.
"I'm a heart person," said McCrary, an active participant and spokesman for the Special Olympics since he signed with the Ravens. "I give it all that I have out on the field. To see other kids who have that same type of heart give everything they have, it's something I want to support."
At the news conference yesterday, McCrary spoke before more than 100 Special Olympics Maryland athletes and said, "You're my idols and the ones I look up to."
He then signed every one of their T-shirts, which had McCrary's No. 99 in the center as well as the fund's logo, the initials "ES" with a halo on top. It's in honor of Eleanor Shaffner, McCrary's grandmother, who died last month.
Mac's Miracle Fun was founded to provide outreach athletic programs for Maryland's urban youth. The Special Olympics Maryland Summer Games celebrates its 30th anniversary this year and will be held June 4-6 in College Park.
"It's just for the joy of watching them smile and being able to help them enjoy themselves," said McCrary.