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Beach Balling for Cards, Humanity

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at New England Patriots Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

I have always loved the scene in To Kill a Mockingbird where Scout and Jem are sitting up in the balcony of the Maycomb Court House next to Reverend Sykes and, just as Atticus Finch starts slowly walking toward the exit, the good Reverend says, “Miss Jean Louise Finch, stand up, your father’s passing.”

Well, if I was a Cardinals ticket holder whose seats are near the tunnel where the Cardinals enter and exit the locker room, I would stand up whenever Kelvin Beachum is passing.

The more and more I listen to Beach and the more and more I learn about his life’s journey, his interests and his extraordinary philanthropy, I find myself feeling so awed by his humanity.

Kelvin Beachum is a godsend.

Beach and his siblings grew up living below the poverty line in a little town in Texas (Maxie where he says, “there were more cows than people.”

When Kelvin was in high school, his dad told him that “somehow, someway you have to go to college, even though, as you know, we can’t pay for it.”

As fate and hard work would have it, Beach hit SMU by storm. Not only did he start 52 straight games at tackle, he became a student rep on the Board of Trustees —-

As he prepared for the 2012 NFL Draft, because of his lack of desired height (6-2 7/8”) most of the pundits projected him at guard, where he could use his commendable thunder pops, knee bend and lateral agility to his advantage.

Beach was selected at pick #248 by the Steelers, a mere three picks ahead of “Mr. Irrelevant.”

Beach said that his first paycheck as a late 7th rounder was more money than both his parents made in one year. Imagine that.

Therefore, how joyous an occasion it was a few years later on HGTV’s “Fixer Upper” for Beach to present his parents with a $100,000 check in helping them renovate a $130,000 house.

As my mom liked to say, “E = mc2, after that, it’s who you know in life.”

Last year while searching for a new team in free agency, Kelvin Beachum had a number of strong connections to the Cardinals, having once been coached on the Steelers by Cardinals’ OL coach Sean Kugler and having backed up and filled in for RT Marcus Gilbert.

After filling in for Gilbert as the team’s swing tackle, Beach eventually won the LT job with the Steelers. He boasted at the time that he was “the shortest left tackle in the NFL.” In his 3rd season (2014), Beach earned the 5th highest PFF grade overall and the 3rd highest pass blocking efficiency at 97.5 (behind only Andrew Whitworth and Joe Thomas).

The Steelers wanted to extend Beachum after his fabulous 2014 season, but he felt that in a year’s time, he could possibly get a bigger offer as a 2016 unrestricted free agent.

However, in October of 2015, Beachum suffered a season ending ACL/MCL tear during the Steelers’ home win over the Cardinals (the game where you might recall the Cardinals were beaten by backup QB Landry Jones as documented on Amazon’s All or Nothing).

After signing with the Jacksonville Jaguars a 1 year $5M contract in 2016 with a team option 4 year $40M contract with $1.5M in guaranteed money —- Beachum struggled to return to his pre-ACL form while surrendering 49 QB pressures and thus the Jaguars declined the 4/$40M option.

Thus, in 2017 Beachum signed a 3 year $24M contract with $12.5M guaranteed with the New York Jets. Jets’ head coach Todd Bowles plugged him right in at left tackle where he played at a commendably consistent level for 3 years.

With the Cardinals last season, Beach was a key signing (at a mere $1.2M) because Marcus Gilbert opted out due to COVID-19 and while there was initial questions as to how well Beach would transition from LT to starting RT, these results speak for themselves:

PFF Grades Last 4 Years —- T Kelvin Beachum

  • 2017 NYJ Overall: 69.3 —-Pass Blocking: 80.5
  • 2018 NYJ Overall: 68.5 —- Pass Blocking: 79.4
  • 2019 NYJ Overall: 67.1 —- Pass Blocking: 72.7
  • 2020 ARZ Overall: 69.0 —- Pass Blocking: 76.8

Note: PFF current projects the Cardinals’ offensive line as the #11th best in 2021.

It was largely expected by Cardinals’ fans and media that Kelvin Beachum would sign an attractive contract with another team in free agency because of his impressive 2020 season at RT and because the Cardinals had drafted Josh Jones in the 3rd round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Plus, at the time, there was an anticipation that Marcus Gilbert would return after opting out.

During a pre-free agency press conference, Sean Kugler more than hinted that a free agent might be signed at RT, saying that Josh Jones could factor in at guard as well as at tackle. Little did we know at the time, that there was great interest on the part of Kliff Kingsbury, Sean Kugler and Kyler Murray to have Kelvin Beachum return.

How joyful it was for many Cardinals’ fans and media to hear that not only did Kelvin Beachum re-sign with the team, he did so on a very team friendly 2 year $4M deal. Clearly, like LG Justin Pugh who took a pay cut (after what Steve Keim described as his best season as a Cardinal) to help with the salary cap and to maintain his position on the OL, Kelvin Beachum made it clear that he loves his OL in Arizona and he doesn’t want to play for any coach other than Sean Kugler.

Here was my reaction:

Talk about godsend?!

Yet, it was far more than just Beachum’s affinity for his teammates and for Sean Kugler as to why he wanted so badly to stay in Arizona, it was his deep investment in the community and in seeing his philanthropic endeavors continue to grow and flourish.

Kelvin Beachum is a godsend for the Cardinals —- but make no mistake about it —- Kelvin Beachum is a prodigious and indefatigable godsend for humanity —- and in particular, for families and kids in need.

You might have seen Beach’s latest TV ad to promote the “Players Coalition” which provides underprivileged students with much needed technology. Here, have a look:

But, when you dig deeper into Kelvin Beachum’s philanthropic pursuits, from the very minute he became an NFL player, Beach has been focused on doing everything he can to fight world hunger and the dire need for clean water (Beach says that 1,000 kids under the age of 5 die every day due to not having access to clean water).

During the pandemic, Beach, through his support of “World Vision”, helped to provide emergency food and water kits to over 500,000 Americans.

As a highly devoted participant in the foundation “Bread for the World”, Beach is planning trips to Honduras and Uganda where his mission is to create food centers and fresh water wells.

And there is so much more —- tons more —- like Beach’s investment interests in technology —- as this great interview highlights:

Kelvin Beachum grew up in a family that struggled to make ends meet —- his dad told him that no matter what Kelvin had to find a way to go to college —- and look at the myriad of ways in which this young man is, as they say, “paying it forward.”

Like, non-stop.

So, yes, whenever Kelvin Beachum runs in and out of the tunnel, you might want to “stand up, Birdgang, your right tackle is passing.”