Leagues, Favre, McNair, Serena contribute
Brett Favre, Steve McNair and Serena Williams are among the athletes contributing to relief for Hurricane Katrina victims as pledges roll in from across the country.
Louisiana native Warrick Dunn -- the NFL Man of the Year in 2004 -- made an emotional plea to his fellow players before the Atlanta Falcons' game with the Miami Dolphins on Thursday night to contribute at least $5,000 apiece to relief efforts, saying players have a moral obligation to help. He said the Saints shouldn't have to give, but getting the 53 players on the 31 other teams to donate the $5,000 would boost the relief effort by more than $8.2 million.
Major League Baseball, the NBA and the Southeastern Conference will each donate to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina, with the two professional leagues committing $2 million each.
MLB and its players' association and the NBA and its teams have each pledged $1 million to the American Red Cross. The National Basketball Players Association has also said it will raise $1 million for disaster relief.
"Major League Baseball wants to do its share to help those who are suffering from the devastating wreckage caused by Hurricane Katrina," commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement Thursday. "I thank the players' association for joining us in making this initial contribution and I thank in advance our clubs, players, employees, business partners and fans who offer assistance in the days ahead."
In addition to the SEC's donation, the league announced Thursday that each of its 12 universities will coordinate fund-raising efforts at home football games during the next several weeks.
"Hurricane Katrina has devastated the lives of victims in four of the SEC's states, Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi, and may continue to do so for months and years to come," SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said.
Baseball will pass collection plates at all 15 games on Sept. 7 -- Roberto Clemente Day -- and has offered to match up to $1 million in proceeds. Players will wear Red Cross patches and bases will include the logo and a telephone number to call to contribute to the relief effort. The 15 visiting teams will host individual relief efforts on future dates.
Clemente, a Hall of Fame outfielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates, died on Dec. 31, 1972, during a relief effort in Nicaragua. He was delivering goods to earthquake victims when his plane crashed.
Major League Baseball also announced a $1 donation for every item purchased at MLB.com.
Favre and McNair, who are both from Mississippi, had family and friends directly affected by the storm.
The two quarterbacks were sending water, canned food, generators and other supplies to Covington and Harrison counties, according to The Tennessean.
McNair also promised to send fans an autographed photo in exchange for a tax deductible donation of $100 or more for hurricane relief to his foundation.
Donations can be sent to The Steve McNair Foundation, 209 10th Ave. South, Suite 342-B, Nashville, TN 37069.
Williams, who remembers the damage in Florida during hurricane season last year, plans to donate $100 for each ace she serves the rest of the year, the New York Daily News reported.
"Last year we in Palm Beach got hit really bad," Williams told the paper. "That was like a Category 2, 3 maybe at the most. It was devastating down there. It was a lot of damage. It was pretty sad.
"So, I can only imagine what it must be like in New Orleans, especially looking at all the footage, all the rain, all this horrible stuff. I thought it would be just a halfway decent gesture."
And the tennis community is lining up to join the effort.
The U.S Tennis Association announced Thursday that it will donate $500,000 from U.S. Open proceeds to the American Red Cross for affected communities in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Commercials devoted to the relief effort will be aired during Open broadcasts, and public service announcements will be made on the grounds of the National Tennis Center. Fans attending the Open can make donations beginning Friday.
Others making contributions:
• Sheila Johnson, president and managing partner of the WNBA's Washington Mystics, donated $500,000 to the American Red Cross to help with relief. Two Mystics players are from Louisiana -- Temeka Johnson and Alana Beard.
• Ohio State will help relief efforts by donating $2 from each football program sold in September and by collecting money from fans at Ohio Stadium.
• The Atlanta Braves will donate $1 for every new ticket sold in the month of September to the Mississippi American Red Cross and hurricane relief efforts. The Braves and the Braves Foundation will donate a minimum of $100,000.
•Major League Soccer, as well as members of the U.S. national team and Mexican national team, are contributing autographed game-worn jerseys to be auctioned. Players competing in the World Cup qualifier in Columbus, Ohio, on Saturday, and all MLS games this weekend will sign jerseys, which will be auctioned online at www.MLSnet.com. The MetroStars will hold a silent auction during Saturday's game at Giants Stadium to benefit AmeriCares and the Red Cross
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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