Doug Williams and the Washington Redskins have always been about giving back to a community that's given so much to them with their support.
The latest instance of Williams and the team's community outreach took place on Saturday night, as the Bethesda North Marriott hosted the ninth annual Washington Football Legends Football Gala, presented by Marriott International.
Williams hosted the event, along with James "Shack" Harris, co-founder of the Shack Harris & Doug Williams Foundation and Thomas Moorehead, co-founder of The Joyce & Thomas Moorehead Foundation. The Gala helped to raise money to support local charities and give scholarships to several hard-working and deserving students.
In addition, six individuals were honored due to their great contributions to the sport of football and the greater Washington, D.C., area. Among the honorees was former Redskins cornerback and Pro Football Hall of Famer Darrell Green, who was given the Bobby Mitchell Champion of the Gridiron Award.
Over the years, the Gala has grown in size and magnitude, thanks in part to Williams' dedication to making his community the best it can be, starting with its young people.
"I think the most important thing is the fact that we help afford scholarships for some of the kids in this area," Williams said. "I think when you do that people really love knowing that you are helping young individuals go to college, attain a degree and you continue to do it. We also help individuals in the neighborhood who have had some tragedies; just all those feel good stories. I think that is the most important thing."
Harris and Williams have known each other for well over four decades, dating back to their respective times at Grambling State University and in the NFL. They both had historic runs in the professional ranks, as Harris was the first black quarterback to lead a team to the playoffs, and Williams was the first black quarterback to start in a Super Bowl and be named Super Bowl MVP.
With a powerhouse tandem like Harris and Williams, it was only a matter of time before they collaborated on an effort like the Shack Harris & Doug Williams Foundation, which was founded in 2005. Since then, the Foundation has reached out and supported economically and physically challenged youth, after-school initiatives, leadership development, mentoring programs and other educational initiatives.
The reason why the Gala continues to flourish, and has the ability to provide for countless numbers of families, is because the very people they give back to does the same in kind.
"It's the support of the community," Harris said. "The community has really gotten behind it and supported it. It's great to be a part of two established Washingtonians, Doug Williams and Tommy Moorehead. They do a great job contributing to this area and helping young people."
Moorehead's a fellow Grambling State Tiger, who has a heart of gold, just like Williams and Harris. The Joyce & Thomas Moorehead Foundation got its start in 2004, and since then, has provided more than $500,000 in charitable assistance to students, working families and non-profit organizations in Northern Virginia.
For Moorehead to team up with Williams and Harris on this annual event, which has wide reaching effects in the DMV, is an absolute honor and a pleasure for him.
"They are the backbone of this organization," Moorehead said. "When you look at what you are trying to do in this community, relative to young people going off to school, to have people like Doug and Shack to give us their time is an honor for all of us. We want to continue to try and raise as much as we can and educate as many students as we can."
"It's because of the support of the Washington Redskins, and other organizations, in particular the Marriott Corporation, that's made this possible," Moorehead added.