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Another side of Saints WR Joe Horn

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  • Another side of Saints WR Joe Horn

    Saints player Joe Horn visits refugees at Astrodome
    By KRISTIE RIEKEN, Associated Press Writer
    September 3, 2005

    HOUSTON (AP) -- Three-year-old Aaron Carter timidly hoisted a small football skyward to Saints receiver Joe Horn, who reached down and gave the boy a hug before signing.

    The boy's grandmother, Jeanne Carter, says seeing Aaron happy made her smile for the first time all week. For thousands of Hurricane Katrina refugees inside the Astrodome on Saturday, meeting Horn was a much-needed morale boost.

    ``Anybody can throw money around at these people, but they need love,'' said Horn, who spent three hours signing autographs, holding babies and playing games with children. ``They need to be able to feel me. So when I leave, I hope they feel a little better.''

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    Horn made good on a promise after the Saints' last preseason game Thursday by driving to Houston to spend time with refugees.

    Longtime Saints fan DeShawn Brown could barely contain himself when he saw Horn.

    ``This is big,'' Brown bellowed. ``Our mail didn't come out here, and Joe Horn came out here. He's the truth.''

    Horn worked his way through lines of cots and people lining the Astrodome floor as women shrieked in delight and everyone from small children to the elderly lined up to greet him.

    ``We're going to bounce back,'' he yelled to the crowd. ``Things will get better.''

    People milling on the Astrodome floor and those sitting in the stands alike hollered their thanks to Horn and kids dashed toward him clasping any paper they could find for autographs. Others had him sign miniature Bibles distributed to survivors.

    ``Joe Horn came to see us when no one else would,'' said one person. ``It's good to see somebody from home,'' yelled another from high above.

    Bridget Bailey, who came to the Astrodome with 18 relatives after being rescued by helicopter, showed Horn digital pictures of her flooded home.

    ``Horn came to show us love, baby,'' she said. ``It means so much to see him here and know that he cares.''

    A middle-aged man pushed through the crowd and approached Horn with a picture of his missing wife. He asked Horn to hold the photograph while he snapped a picture of the player and said he was confident he would find her.

    One young man came up crying and relayed a story about watching several members of his family die. Horn said he almost broke down but composed himself when he looked around and saw the smiling faces of several children gathered around him.

    Horn held babies, kissing them on their cheeks and making them giggle. He sat down on cots and talked to the elderly. He tossed a football to a young boy and played a board game with another.

    ``Right now money doesn't matter,'' said Horn, who has sent more than $15,000 to friends and associates affected by the flood. ``Who you are or where you're from doesn't matter. Getting to come out here and give a child a hug or give someone a hug who knows that their house and everything that they have is gone is what's important.''

    He spoke through an interpreter with Darron Gavrel, 14, who is deaf. He told him to stay positive and shared with the teenager that he has an aunt and uncle who are deaf. Gavrel's eyes grew wide and he smiled, revealing a toothy grin.

    It was a softer side to the man who made headlines two years ago when he was fined $30,000 for pulling a cell phone out the goal post padding after a touchdown and making a call in the end zone.

    Many people asked him about the future of the Saints and how the season would go. The team has moved its headquarters to San Antonio.

    ``I don't care about all that,'' he said. ``We're going to be where they want us to be anyway.''

    On the drive to the Astrodome, Horn was quiet and upset.

    When asked if football mattered right now he answered, ``Hell, no.''

    He was different after his visit, smiling and laughing, and had even changed his tune on football.

    ``I thought football would be irrelevant, but it's not,'' he said. ``They want us to roll. They want us to play, so now I'm more spirited to do that.''

    He felt like he got as much of a boost from the visit as he gave to the people.

    ``At first my spirits was down,'' he said. ``I didn't want to catch any footballs. I didn't want to run any routes. Now, I'm going back full steam ahead telling the fellows, 'Let's go. That's what everybody wants.'''

    While he was in California watching the footage of New Orleans, he said he felt helpless and sickened and could barely eat. He knew then that he had to reach out to the people of the city.

    ``I feel much better now because I see where their heart is,'' he said. ``They're about helping themselves and helping each other. They just appreciate that I came through just to say, 'You're going to be all right.'''

    He said preparing for the Saints' opener Sept. 11 at Carolina will be tough, but he'll do it for all the fans he met Saturday.

    ``I'm going to get a grasp of myself because the fans here, they still want us to win,'' he said. ``That's what they have to hold on to. That's why I came. I wanted to come and feel their heart. Now I can feel more comfortable about taking a flight to Carolina and trying to win a football game for these fans.''

    Updated on Saturday, Sep 3, 2005 7:41 pm EDT
    Make America Great For Once.

  • #2
    Good for Joe Horn - great story.

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    • #3
      Honestly, it's not that hard to see that side of Horn. I think a lot of pro players are actually decent guys, but act differently on the field. Randy Moss is a great example of that. He's a guy that most people consider to be a horse's ass, but the work he's done with handicapped children, especially that one little girl and her family, is unbelievable. I saw an interview with him where he actually broke down and cried talking about how strong she was and admired her for it. Since then, he's done some stupid things on and off the field, but I always remember that interview and think, how many of us do stupid shit we're not proud of, but would like people to realize we're actually good people? A lot of the NASCAR guys I cover are like that; jackass on the track, guy who quietly donates time and money to a ton of charities...
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