If you watch and follow the NFL Combine, you know the 40-yard dash is a big event. If you don’t watch and follow the NFL Combine, the 40-yard dash is a really big event in which NFL prospects show their speed and agility.
Since 2005, NFL Network’s Rich Eisen has run the 40-yard dash, coining the event Run Rich Run, to raise money for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. This past Combine, he got by with a little help from his friends, San Francisco 49ers’ tight end George Kittle, Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice and Von, a St. Jude’s patient.
“I was on Rich’s show…halfway through the season, and we were just talking about the 40 and how he runs in a full suit, and so I said, ‘Hey, maybe this year I can race you or help you out with it,’ Kittle said. “He said, ‘Hey, that’s a great idea. We’ll talk about it.’ And a couple of weeks later he messaged me on Twitter about it…And then about two weeks ago, we connected again and figured the whole thing out, it was pretty easy. Rich, that’s something I’ve been watching for the last 10 years is him running the 40-yard dash in a suit. So being able to be a part of it was honestly just really fun for me, because it’s something I’ve always been a fan of.”
Such a fan, in fact, that Kittle and his wife, Claire, donated $10,000 to St. Jude’s.
“I’m just such a fan of Rich and that he does that every year through St. Jude’s,” Kittle said. “I’m a big fan of the Iowa Children’s Hospital, so any time I can give back. I’m just a fan of that, any time I can give back to help kids, they deserve it, and I just love what Rich is doing, and so I thought I could help out a little bit.”
In addition to the donation, Kittle timed the run and also served as Eisen’s hype ma, “hyping” Eisen to a time of 5.98.
“I think I’m a really good timer,” said Kittle. “I have a really quick trigger finger when it comes to the end, but I think he worked hard for it, he was excited. He said he had a nice suit on that allowed him to get his knees up, it was a little stretchy, so I was impressed with his numbers, but I expected them.”
He blocks. He gets a million (hyperbole but let’s go with it) yards after the catch. He times 40-yard dashes. He hypes. And he makes generous donations. Kittle is a true renaissance man.
But there’s a talent to being a hype man, or woman. It’s not just cheers and volume.
“What I think works the best, you’ve got to be a one-hit wonder,” Kittle explained. “You’ve got to get it out all on the first take, and that’s it. If I get asked to do things over like, ‘Hey, we’re going to take two or three takes on this,’ I can’t do it. I’m one take and I’m done. So you’ve just got to let it all out the very first time to get it all going. That’s to get the juices because it’s all natural.”
Unfortunately, after the Combine, Nashville, Tennessee, where the Kittles spend much of the NFL offseason, was hit with a terrible tornado.
“At first, we just wanted to send our thoughts and prayers to everyone affected by the tornado, but I was part of a donation video with [49ers’ quarterback C.J. Beathard]. And then, I know [the 49ers are] helping me look into some things to be able to do this weekend to help out. So we have some things planned and rolling, and we’re just going to help where we can.”
Much like the organization he plays for, community and giving back are very important to Kittle, and to his wife, Claire. He is at numerous 49ers’ community events throughout the season and makes them a priority. It makes a Fangirl proud. Go Niners.
*All photos taken by Todd Rosenberg/NFL