Cameron Jordan has a nickname for all of his fellow New Orleans Saints defensive linemen. Darryl Tapp is simply “Da Real” because the 32-year-old is such a genuine guy.
On Monday evening, Tapp acted as a real version of Santa Claus for 15 families.
Tapp and his wife, Tiffany, donated 15 Target gift cards worth $450 to the New Orleans Family Justice Center, which supports survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.
The couple — along with nearly 20 Saints players –joined the mothers for their shopping spree at the Metairie store, helping the women pick out presents and other items for their children in advance of the holiday season.
Tapp has hosted some version of this charitable event each of the past 10 years, whether he was with the Seattle Seahawks, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins or now the Saints.
“It puts things in perspective because a lot of times you kind of go through life, and, not to say you don’t appreciate it, but you … take things for granted,” Tapp said. “Just to put a smile on somebody else’s face, especially at a time when it’s supposed to be good but it can be stressful, we’re just happy to help, man.”
Mary Claire Landry, executive director of the New Orleans Family Justice Center, was glad Tapp offered to help this year because tight end Benjamin Watson used to donate to the center similarly during his time with the Saints. Watson is now with the Baltimore Ravens, and Tapp is in his first season with New Orleans.
“It’s just a wonderful thing, not just to give them the gifts, but to really develop a relationship with (the women),” Landry said. “It’s just a personal touch, and they’re just so excited to be involved with the Saints players.”
Tight end Coby Fleener, linebacker Craig Robertson, defensive tackles Nick Fairley and David Onyemata and safeties Vonn Bell, Roman Harper and Jairus Byrd were among the players who each shopped with one of the mothers. Fleener spoke Spanish with one of the women, and Jordan kept walking around the store, meeting just about all 15 of the moms.
“It’s Christmas coming up, and it’s all about spreading good vibes, positivity, love,” Jordan said. “When you come to an event like this, it’s good to meet people who may not necessarily themselves be fans of individual football players, but their families know of us and they know what the Saints represent in this community. That’s what it’s all about. It’s all about love.”
Tapp first participated in an event like this as a rookie with the Seahawks in 2006. The two veteran players who led the affair, defensive ends Bryce Fisher and Grant Wistrom, weren’t with the team the next December, so Tapp started hosting it. He’s done the same thing each year since, helping children or families through various charities in each city he’s played.
Jessi Turchi, a New Orleans woman with a 5-year-old son, spent Monday night shopping with Tapp, who has a young daughter and son. She just learned from the center about the opportunity last Friday and was shocked to see the Saints players arrive at Target. After worrying previously about the presents she’d have for her son, she wanted to use the money for board games, clothes, a rug for her son’s room and Star Wars lightsaber, among other things.
“When they called me, I was like, this is a huge weight off my shoulders because I didn’t know how I was going to do it,” he said. “This is probably the only opportunity I have to get him like an electronic or get him those other things that he would really want.”
Posted on December 20, 2016 at 4:31 pm