NEW YORK — Family has always been a part of the Rutgers football mantra, but rarely is that more evident than last night at Chelsea Piers.
Legendary Rutgers back Brian Leonard barely even had to ask for than 20 former and current teammates to come out and support him last night in New York and they came out in droves.
From college counterpart Ray Rice to new head coach Kyle Flood, Rutgers gave a strong showing at Leonard’s “Rally at the Alley” event.
“It means a lot to me,” Leonard said. “It's a Rutgers family here, we've got some guys from the Bengals, too. It's a football family and these guys would do anything for you and they want to be part of a charity like this. I just gave them a call and they say they're there. No questions about it. They're going to support me and if they have an event I'll support them too.”
Flood helped pave the way for Leonard’s successes at Rutgers, coaching up the linemen that blocked for the school’s second all-time receptions leader behind Mohamed Sanu.
Now taking over as head coach, Flood was just a phone call away from coming out to support fellow New Yorker Leonard.
“I’m glad he’s here to support me and the event,” Leonard said. “I think he’s going to do a heck of a job at Rutgers. I think he’s a personable guy and he’s a guy that can motivate. I think he’s a guy that’s going to take this program a long ways.”
Leonard’s “Rally at the Alley” is in its third year and the guest list for the event included Rice, Flood, Andy Dalton, the McCourty twins, Jamaal Westerman, Joe Lefeged and many more.
“It’s just gotten bigger and better every year,” Leonard said. “We’ve sold it out the last three years. We’ve had 20 to 25 NFL athletes here every year and people love it. People say they enjoy it and the best thing about it is we raise a lot of money for this charity.”
Leonard’s outing benefits the Embrace Kids Foundation, which is a non-profit foundation to benefit children with cancer and blood disorders.
“It’s very important to me,” Leonard said. “It’s a New Brunswick-based charity and I’m just so glad to be a part of it. It’s unfortunate for these kids who have this disease of cancer and a lot of their childhoods are taken away, so for me to give back a little bit and for them to maybe have a day at the beach or a day down in [Atlantic City], which this charity can do for them, then I love it.”
Leonard had a reputation as a leader and role model while a team captain at Rutgers and, through his charity and community work, that has continued throughout his five-year NFL career.
“I [am] blessed to be able to play in the NFL,” Leonard said. “Once I got there, I knew it was my time to give back. So I’m giving back now.”