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John DeShazier: Keenan Lewis delivers gold, commemorative football to Landry-Walker High School

Gift part of Super Bowl High School Honor Roll initiative

Frankly, the football players at Landry-Walker see New Orleans Saints cornerback Keenan Lewis plenty.

He grew up on the West Bank of New Orleans (Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan affectionately calls him "West Bank"), attended O. Perry Walker High (the school merged with L.B. Landry High after Hurricane Katrina) and often is on the sideline when the Charging Buccaneers play on Friday nights, given that even when the Saints play a road game, Saturday is the usual departure day.

But last Tuesday's campus visit by Lewis was different.

Football-related, certainly – but absolutely different.

On Tuesday, Lewis came bearing a gift, in the form of a gold, commemorative football, presented to each NFL player and coach who has been on an active Super Bowl roster, a trinket to be passed along to the respective high schools of those players.

The Super Bowl High School Honor Roll initiative recognizes schools and communities that contributed to Super Bowl history. The recipient schools receive a Wilson Golden Football for every player or head coach who graduated from their school and was on an active Super Bowl roster.

Nearly 3,000 players and head coaches, and 2,000 high schools, will be recognized.

The NFL Foundation will provide the schools with a new character education curriculum and the opportunity to apply for grants of up to $5,000 to help support and grow their football programs. The NFL Foundation has invested $1 million toward the campaign.

For Lewis, it was just another investment into the community that he vowed to support when he returned to New Orleans, as a free agent from Pittsburgh in 2013.

"I think it's important to come back to my high school, just to show the youth that they can have the opportunity to accomplish their goals one day," he said. "Hopefully, they'll use this for motivation and one day, we'll see them playing in the Super Bowl.

"(Giving back) means a lot, especially being from here, knowing the kids and the situations they come from, different backgrounds. Just to show them that they can make it. Hopefully, they can use me for motivation.

"I'm from this community. I lived everywhere around this area. Just let them know, no matter what you go through, you can achieve whatever you want to."

Lewis' presence appears to be having the desired result.

"Keenan is one of the top players to come through O. Perry Walker, now Landry-Walker, and he's always an inspiration to us," Landry-Walker coach Emanuel Powell said.

Said sophomore receiver Devonta Jason: "I just love the way the way he gives back to his community and where he came from.

"He's a great mentor, he keeps us in the game and keeps us focused."

The latter is a job Lewis takes seriously, and performs routinely. In addition to attending games, Lewis also said he drops by practice when time permits.

"Like I tell you all every week, give your best effort and rely on one another, and be accountable," he said while addressing the team prior to practice.

"It's an honor to give back, that's something I've always been a part of in my community."

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