There is no shortage of ex-NFL players who chose to become police officers or firefighters following their playing careers, perhaps none more visibly than former Eagles offensive lineman Danny Watkins. His passion for service outweighed his love for football.
Ernest Wilford did not leave football to pursue a new field.
But based on an award he received Thursday, he has a knack for it.
The former Jaguars wide receiver was honored with a Peer Achievement Award from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office he serves. He joined the department last March because he “wanted to serve the people in the community who cheered him on in his previous profession, according to the Florida Times-Union.
Wilford played for the Jaguars from 2004 to 2007 and again in 2009 and 2010.
The newspaper cited a number of actions prompting the accolade.
The list includes Wilford responding to a domestic disturbance situation that involved an “unruly son.” Its root issue was the son not having a job. Wilford spoke to a local restaurant employee, who helped arrange a job for the teen. On another call, Wilford arranged a dentist from his church to meet with a woman who reported significant pain but could not afford dental care. The woman previously threatened suicide, per the report.
Such community work would not generate a headline if not for Wilford’s NFL background.
So, if nothing else, it’s a reminder that the most positive efforts from public service workers often go unnoticed to the greater public.