Flanked by two teammates with Louisiana ties - Ed Reed and Alan Ricard - Ravens cornerback Deion Sanders challenged his professional sports colleagues to donate $1,000 to help with the relief effort from the wreckage caused by Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
Sanders asked each team from the NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball and the NHL to elect a captain to serve as the point man in collecting the money. Sanders said he will oversee the project, and his goal is to give at least $1.5 million from the NFL players alone to the Red Cross.
The NFL has donated $1 million, and the Ravens have donated $25,000 and will collect money outside the stadium before the season opener Sept. 11. Sanders, who said he has spoken with a number of representatives from teams, wants to present a check from each team as soon as possible, but he did not have a specific timeline in place.
"We're just at the point now where we're tired of talking about the situation, we want to do something about the situation," Sanders said. "I want to thank all you NFL players, Major League Baseball, NBA players in advance because I know you will and you shall respond."
Although Sanders is not from the area affected by the hurricane, he said he felt compelled to raise funds and awareness because he does not see the same sense of urgency from the public that had been the case in previous disasters.
"We want the response that America had for the tsunami," Sanders said. "We want that type of response. Some way or another, we're not receiving that type of response. I don't know why. But that's what we're after."
Though the tragedy did not affect members of Sanders' family, Reed, from St. Rose, La., about 20 miles outside New Orleans, said his immediate family was able to evacuate to Baton Rouge.
Reed said he is not sure if his family's house survived the hurricane.
Ricard, who was raised in Amite, La., about 70 miles northwest of New Orleans, said his family did not have to evacuate its home, but there is no electricity within the city. Ricard did have a number of aunts and uncles living in New Orleans who lost homes.
"Me being from down there and talking to my brother every day, it's a lot worse than what you see on TV," Reed said. "We all need to pull together, not in professional sports, but in the cities and in the states and contribute whatever we can: food, water, clothes, whatever it may be. It's a lot of clothes that we don't need. I have four, five bags packed up ready to go, and I'm sure it's going to be more."
The Ravens played the New Orleans Saints eight days ago at the Louisiana Superdome, three days before the building was turned into a shelter.
"This is the city we walked on just last week to play a game that we love to play, but this is real," Reed said.
Major contributions from the sports world to Hurricane Katrina relief efforts:
NBA and NBAPA: $3 million
Major League Baseball and MLBPA: $1 million
NFL: $1 million
Southeastern Conference: $1 million
New York Yankees: $1 million
Houston Texans: $1 million
Washington Mystics: $500,000
U.S. Tennis Association: $500,000
NASCAR: Talladega Raceway: $1 million