Marcus Trufant has special incentive to win the Super Bowl. After all, Trufant may be a finalist for the World's Nicest Guy, but he doesn't want to lose money on his trip to Detroit.
Trufant, Seattle's gifted cornerback out of Washington State, forked over $9,000 to purchase 15 tickets for family and friends to join him at the Super Bowl.
A nice gesture, certainly, even for a wealthy young man like Trufant. His generosity takes on added meaning when, after considerable prodding, Trufant revealed that some of his guests are relatives whose lives were turned upside down by Hurricane Katrina.
"Some of them lost their houses and most of their things, but they're doing all right," Trufant says.
Left unsaid is the fact that Trufant's kindness is providing a ray of light at the end of a tunnel darker than most of us can imagine. How ironic it is that a player who makes things so miserable for rivals on the football field has long been known for making things so right for others when he is off the football field.
"He's the nicest guy," says Mike Price, who coached Trufant at Washington State. "He's the best person. He's the greatest guy. His mom and dad are just so great.
"He was never in my office. He was never in trouble. He was never on the list for being late. It just doesn't happen too often — everyone does something.
"He's the only kid I can remember calling me on draft day," Price adds. "Usually, I call them to congratulate them. He called to thank me, and his mom called and thanked me."
Trufant, in turn, thanked Lloyd and Constance Trufant by buying his parents a home on Lake Steilacoom in Lakewood, a suburb of Trufant's native Tacoma. Trufant then thanked friends and strangers alike by establishing the Trufant Family Foundation to provide college scholarships and other aid to deserving recipients.
"My parents were big," Trufant said last week while seated in his stall in the Seahawks' massive locker room at their training facility in Kirkland. "I had college coaches, high school coaches, Boys and Girls Club coaches, teachers — everyone in the community helped shape the man I am. That's why I started my foundation — to give back to the community."
Trufant became an instant multimillionaire when he signed with Seattle as the No. 11 overall pick in the 2003 NFL Draft. Regardless of his financial status, the thoughtful, upbeat young man in the No. 23 Seahawks uniform doesn't seem all that different from the kid who was living in an apartment in Pullman a few years ago and making do on about $500 a month in scholarship money.
"The standard of living was a little lower," Trufant said with a smile. "We ate sandwiches and cold cuts and cereal.
"It was all right. It still is."
Today, Trufant owns a home in Kirkland as well as one of those flashy Cadillac Escalade trucks that seemingly have been deemed mandatory for all young professional athletes. His girlfriend made him a father for the first time last week, and Trufant says his parents taught him plenty about good parenting.
"They instilled in me that good things happen to good people," Trufant said. "I've been blessed."
Indeed, Trufant has packed a lot of life into 25 years since being born on Christmas Day in 1980. The oldest of three children (all boys) in the Trufant family, Marcus grew up a Seahawks fan, so he knows how much the team's first Super Bowl means to Seahawk fans all over the Pacific Northwest. Now fans and teammates are relying on him to help shut down the Steelers' suddenly potent passing attack.
"It's like a dream about to come true," he says. "When you're a kid, you dream of playing in the Super Bowl. Now that we're there, we just have to take advantage."