BIRDLAND – You can’t really keep up with Falcons defensive end Jonathan Babineaux, who volunteers relentlessly in the community.
He does work with some 60 organizations, from the Boy Scouts of America to the DTLR football camps. But this past Friday, he dished out a surprise honor to his mother Barbara at the Thanks Mom & Dad Celebration at the Georgia Aquarium.
Babineaux told his mom, who raised five kids in Port Arthur, Texas, to come to see him receive an honor.
The surprise plan worked.
“I saw the sign outside and it didn’t even register at all,” Barbara Babineaux said.
All of her kids went on to graduate from college and Jonathan and Jordan Babineaux, made it to the NFL. Jordan starts at safety for the Tennessee Titans.
In her remarks to the crowd, Barbara Babineaux said, “I’d like to thank the almighty God for keeping me here on earth and to be able to raise my five children. I’d also like to thank him for being able to steer them in the right direction. Most of all, I would like to thank Jonathan for doing this surprise for me.”
Usually, the siblings can’t slip much past their mother.
“I tried to do a surprise for them on my birthday in March,” she said. “But I don’t think that went over too well. They were like ‘this is your birthday.’ … I’d just like to say thank you and let people know how much I really love my children.”
After the event, Babineaux, who presented the tribute to his mother with his lovely wife Blair, was smiling for ear-to-ear.
“It felt truly amazing to be able to do this for her with the help of the president of the Thanks Mom and Dad organization Maureen Kelly,” Babineaux said. “Without her, this would not have been possible. She came up to me with the idea of honoring my mother. For me, it was a no-brainer because of the hard work that she put in, day-in and day-out when we
were little kids.”
Earlier in the day, Babineaux worked the DTLR football camp at Grady High School with Chicago Bear and former Falcons defensive Chauncey Davis and former Baltimore Raven Daniel Wilcox.
“Cedar Grove was the winner this year,” Babineaux said of the seven-on-seven passing camp. “Those guys went out there and fought hard. The runner-up was Columbia. Those guys have a good thing going and MLK looked real good, too. I’m looking forward to watching those guys on Friday nights this year.”
Babineaux said he draws some energy from working the high school football players.
“Just seeing the kids out there, reminds me of my youth,” he said. “Seeing them just rejuvenates me and gives me motivation to go out there and be better than I was last season.”
Babineaux was drafted in the second-round 27th overall) of the 2005 draft. He is set to enter the fourth year of the five-year, $25 million contract extension that he signed with the team in November 2008. His play dipped a little last season in part because he was playing with a knee injury after being near Pro Bowl form in 2010 and 2009.
His tackles and sacks have both dipped over the last few seasons. In 2007 he had 44 tackles and has followed that season with 39, 27 and 25 tackles, according to ProfootballReference.com. He had six sacks in 2008, followed by four in 2009 and one in 2010.
“I’m looking forward to the 2012 season,” Babineaux said. “I can’t wait. Expectations are high for us. It’s not just about making the playoffs. It’s time to get to that point and be able to win in the playoffs and eventually get us a ring.”
MORE ON THANKS MOM & DAD: The organization was created by the Atlanta Regional Commission to honor parents, grandparents and mentors by supporting programs and services that improve the quality of life for older adults and caregivers. They accept tax-deductible donations and use them to serve the vulnerable aging population with grants. The charity serves seniors, promotes wellness and independent living.
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog