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Character Counts

Jacksonville Jaguars QB Blake Bortles spends time with special needs youth football team

It has become somewhat of an expectation that professional athletes do something to give back to the communities they came from.

It can sometimes be turned into a major event by an athlete's camp, trying to draw attention to the good that they are doing. For others, their good deeds go wholly unnoticed and unreported.

But rarely do we get to see it from the angle of someone behind the scenes who is able to document nearly every detail, but that is fortunately not the case for one family's interaction with Blake Bortles, a quarterback from Central Florida University that was selected No. 3 overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars in this month's NFL Draft (you can read all of the details here on the blog at AutismMovesOut.org).

Bortles got his charitable start through a program that partnered Florida high school football players with members of Challenger football -- a program that gives special needs kids a chance to play organized football. Bortles was paired with a boy named C.J., and the two formed a long-lasting bond that's still continuing today.

In addition to a sizable amount of personal, one-on-one time, Bortles also paid a visit to a Challenger practice with hundreds of photos he would sign for the players, and also stuck around for hours to snap photos with anyone who wanted them.

As the blog's author points out, Bortles could have understandably placed his focus elsewhere:

Keep in mind this is a young man who was just days away from the draft…someone under tremendous pressure from all sides…and this was where he choose to focus his time and attention.

Good on Bortles for trying to take an under-the-radar approach to doing something great for someone in his community -- and also CJ's mom for sharing the details for those who don't often see a human side of NFL quarterbacks.

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Outstanding character and good sportsmanship in sports.

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