Former Ravens and current New York Jets linebacker Brandon Copeland has been named the 2020 Alan Page Community Award winner, the NFL Players Association announced Thursday.
Copeland, a Gilman graduate, received the organization’s highest honor for his work in impacting communities in his team’s city and around the country. The NFL will donate $100,000 to Copeland’s Beyond the Basics foundation, which works to “empower young individuals to maximize their potential by exposing them to enriching experiences, opportunities and people,” according to the mission statement on Copeland’s official website.
“Receiving this award from the NFLPA and my peers is truly humbling and serves as one of those moments where God lets you know that you are on the right path,” Copeland said in a statement released by the NFLPA.
“As I have said before, I hope that the legacy I leave here on Earth is much bigger than just being an NFL player. That is the driving force behind why I work so hard to make a positive impact on the people I cross paths with.”
Copeland, who went to the University of Pennsylvania and graduated from the prestigious Wharton School, was chosen from five finalists, including Ravens defensive back Brandon Carr, who is also a finalist for the Walton Payton Man of the Year award. Copeland is the third Baltimore player to win the award, joining Ravens defensive end Michael McCrary (2001) and Colts linebacker Ray May (1972).
Copeland, the grandson of former Baltimore Colts defensive end Roy Hilton, was recognized for his annual “December to Remember” event, which hosted shopping sprees in seven cities, including Baltimore. Copeland received help from several NFL players, including Ravens linebacker Josh Bynes.
Last year, Copeland held his fourth annual youth football camp in Baltimore. The 400-plus participants helped pack 1,000 book bags with school supplies and hygiene kits.
In March, Copeland plans to host “The Basketball Classic: Celebrity Edition” at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
“I look forward to using the NFLPA’s generous donation to continue empowering people, whether it be through community events or taking the time to have a simple conversation,” Copeland said. “Honors and moments like this are a humbling sign that the work of our foundation is making a real impact.”
The award is named after Pro Football Hall of Famer Alan Page, who served as an NFLPA player representative (1970-74, 1976-77) and member of the union’s Executive Committee (1972-75) during his 16-year career with the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears. Page, who earned his law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School and worked at a law firm while still playing in the NFL, later became the first African-American elected to the Minnesota Supreme Court, where he served from 1992 to 2015.