On a bus ride in the middle of Pennsylvania one summer day in 1993, four Washington Redskins hatched an idea.
Wide receiver Art Monk, defensive end Charles Mann, running back Earnest Byner and defensive tackle Tim Johnson often volunteered their time to assist various charities and foundations.
Somewhere between Carlisle, where the Redskins held training camp, and Latrobe, where they were headed for a preseason scrimmage with the Pittsburgh Steelers, though, they decided to pool their efforts.
Later that year, they established the Good Samaritan Foundation, a nonprofit organization in the Washington D.C., area that benefits and serves youth in southeast Washington, D.C.
For the last decade-plus, the foundation has helped educate and train dozens of Washington teens, giving them the skills and knowledge they need to go to college and start careers.
Last November, Monk and Mann sought to do more with the foundation. So at a dinner in Washington honoring top local high school football players, they announced the first annual Good Samaritan Bowl.
The game matches the top seniors from high schools in the D.C. area against those from other counties in Maryland (primarily in the Baltimore and Annapolis areas).
Organizers hope the game raises funds for and awareness about, and helps kicks off a new period of growth for the Good Samaritan Foundation.
Monk, Mann, Byner and Johnson were popular Redskins who had played in Washington for several years when they launched the foundation.
Monk, who set NFL records for most catches in a season (106 in 1984) and a career (940) and played in three Pro Bowls, played in Washington from 1980-93.
Mann, a four-time Pro-Bowler who had more than 90 career sacks, played in Washington from 1983-93.
Byner, who played in two Pro Bowls, and Johnson, a 1993 Sports Illustrated All-Pro, joined the Redskins in 1989.
All four players gave something back to a community that fervently supported them during the NFL season. They often volunteered to deliver food baskets to the elderly and needy during holidays, and helped cornerback Darrell Green with his foundation.
On that 1993 bus trip, though, they decided to be more aggressive with their philanthropic efforts.
"We were all supporting other organizations," said Monk, who played on four Super Bowl teams in Washington, "and we thought we'd have more of an effect if we all came together and established something that we had control over."
The Good Samaritan Foundation was thus established to serve underprivileged youth in Anacostia, a low-income area not too far from R.F.K. Stadium, where the Redskins then played their home games.
The core of the foundation is the Student Training Opportunity Program (STOP), which trains, educates and provides opportunities for dozens of high school students who are chosen to participate every year.
The selected students are given tutoring for their classes, training in professional customs and skills, and are set up with internships and given help getting jobs. They also do community service and are mentored by Monk and Mann.
Dozens of students have benefited from STOP, attending universities such as Stanford and North Carolina A&T
They have met the overriding objective of the program: To provide students with everything they need to prepare for a future away from drugs, gangs and other menaces of inner-city life--a future some in Anacostia didn't know was available.
"We wanted to confront that false reality," Johnson said, "by working with and providing opportunities for the kids to see something different."
Johnson, a senior associate pastor with the Bethel World Outreach Center in Brentwood, Tenn., and Byner, the Redskins' running backs coach, are now members of the foundation's honorary board of directors.
Monk and Mann, who run a credit card processing company together in Vienna, Va., are still intimately involved.
They have a staff that works in a former D.C. legal office to handle the daily operations, but spend a lot of time teaching students at Bible studies, accompanying them to foundation-sponsored college tours and ball games, and attending dinners and golf tournaments to raise funds.
At one such dinner in mid-November, they honored the top 40 local high school football players, along with the Quarterback Club of Washington, and invited those players to compete in the Good Samaritan Bowl.
Sports America, Inc., an event management and sports marketing firm based in Rockville, Md., is coordinating the game. Bob Geoghan, president of Sports America, has organized several similar all-star games, including The McDonald's All-American High School Basketball Game and the U.S. Army All-American Bowl (for high school football players).
Because of Geoghan's experience, Monk and Mann asked him to help plan a game to benefit their foundation.
"We're always looking for ways to raise funds that at the same time bring awareness to who we are and what we do," Monk said.
Dan Sabreen, public relations manager for Sports America, said the game will raise funds for the foundation by charging admission and attracting sponsors, as well as donations.
Sabreen hopes to hold other events around the game, such as musical performances and football clinics, and Monk and Mann will participate in some capacity to attract attention to the game and the foundation.
The foundation could use the attention. It is currently in its sixth location in five years, awaiting a permanent Anacostia Training and Outreach Center. Torrence Montgomery, an executive assistant, expects the $3 million center to be ready by the fall.
Once it is, the foundation has lofty goals.
Its organizers hope to provide STOP to other students in the Washington area, possibly partner with another large foundation and permit other people in the southeast Washington community to access its resources, including a new computer lab and job placement services. It also plans to move all STOP activities to the center.
That's important to Monk. The reticent former star is still shy about publicity--unless it's for the Good Samaritan Foundation.
"The foundation is something that's very important," he said. "We feel it's a responsibility that we have to do our part to look after the youth in Washington.
"It's not just something that we do to have people look at us and say, 'Hey, we're doing a good job.' This is serious to us.
"We're not looking for a pat on the back. We're just looking to do good work."