Maybe you know Nate Solder played left tackle for the New England Patriots before signing a $62 million contract with the New York Giants this week. Maybe you know his 2-year-old son, Hudson, has kidney cancer.
Those are facts. Want a real glimpse at what kind of person the Giants just bought for their $62 million, $34.8 million of which is fully guaranteed? His remarks to New York media on Friday gave us a picture of what the 29-year-old Solder is all about.
His annual salary of $15.5 million will be the highest among the NFL’s offensive linemen. So, how does Solder feel about having that big pile of green at his disposal?
“This is all very surreal. But I think it’s a shame on me if the money only helps the Solder family,” Solder said. “My belief is that this money has been entrusted to me not for the personal comfort and security, but for an actual impact that we can have on our community and the people around us.
“I’m just such an imperfect person -- I’m going to make mistakes, so I have to rely on Jesus. We have all through our suffering with our son and everything that goes on in life, so we have to do the same thing with our rejoicing and when things are going well, we have to rely on him. But by God’s grace if we joyfully look forward to the momentary impact for the New York Giants, a lifetime of impact on our communities and an eternal impact for the kingdom of God, me and my family could not be more thankful and excited, so it’s just a great time. Like you said, no, I couldn’t have ever expected this, but we believe that it’s God’s wishes, not ours, to make the impact in our communities -- for the kingdom, for people that are less fortunate for us. It’s nothing about us having a bigger house, a nicer car, anything like that. So like I said, shame on me if it’s just about us.”
Many athletes give back to their communities. That, to be honest, is a pretty amazing answer. Perhaps unlike any I’ve seen before from a professional athlete. It’s an indication of why Solder, a testicular cancer survivor himself, was the Patriots’ Walter Payton Man of the Year Award nominee last season.
Here are a few other takeaways from Solder’s remarks.
On the challenge of moving to a new city and new team for the first time in his NFL career ...
“Well, there are a number of challenges. I think right now my priority is just getting the family moved to where they can be situated and they can be okay, and then once that is taken care of, then I can take care of football, and I’m going to dive in as soon as the league allows. I’ll be diving into the playbook and whatever the Giants can get me. I look forward to OTAs, we’ll be there the whole time, every day, learning the playbook, learning to get to know my teammates, learning how the coaches operate and just doing what I can to help all of those guys and that’s kind of my plan. There are going to be challenges, there are going to be bumps along the way, it’s always going to be difficult. I look forward to that, I embrace that. I think it’s going to be a new challenge, both an exciting and new chapter in the book, and we’re looking forward to it.”
On why he chose the Giants ...
“Yeah, so it was a tough decision. There were three really good teams that were kind of in the running and it came down to a couple things. The money was all somewhat equal and it just came down to where my family was going to be most comfortable. My wife’s family lives here [Southbury, CT.], this organization is incredible, just the reputation that we know and the reputation that precedes them. At about 2 a.m. we kind of worked out a deal and kind of took our time figuring out what we’re going to do and we’re so fortunate to be where we’re at.”
On what he can impart on new teammates from his time in New England ...
“I’m going to worry about one thing and that’s taking care of my business. I’m going to do the best I can to play football, love all my teammates, do the best I can in everything that I do, try to improve every day and I don’t put any quotations marks around that. That’s just the way that I’ve done it before and that’s the way that I’m going to do my best to continue to do it.”
On the idea he could help Ereck Flowers ...
“I’m excited to get to play with him and all those guys because he’s a talented guy. All the decisions and all the coaching and all that sort of thing, I leave that up to the coaches. I’m going to be the best I can to do what I can -- lead by example and it’s a group effort. Like I said, it’s not going to be one player, so I don’t have the mentality that I’m going to come in and make this huge impact, change the culture and all this kind of stuff. I’m just coming in to play football and be myself and do what I can.”