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New Orleans Saints All-Pro returner Deonte Harris also shines as a giver

'It's just being able to help out in any way possible'

Deonte Harris zooms through 49ers for 51-yard kick return

You don't need to be rich in order to have a heart of gold.

By NFL standards, Deonte Harris isn't yet the former.

But by NFL standards – and any other available metric – he unquestionably possesses the latter.

Harris, the New Orleans Saints' All-Pro kick returner, was an undrafted rookie in 2019. There were no guarantees when he joined the franchise (the Saints, in fact, had an accomplished veteran NFL returner on the roster at the time) and no extreme financial windfall accompanied his signing.

But Harris has taken on the financial responsibility of providing about 10,600 meals to food banks in his hometown (Baltimore) and his adopted hometown (New Orleans) as communities across the world band together in an effort to combat some of the effects of COVID-19.

"I was always taught that there are people out there that are less fortunate," Harris said. "Fortunately for me, I've been blessed with a certain gift that helps me financially. Someone once told me, 'You can't out-give God,' and everything that you own, 10 percent you're supposed to give back. I was just raised to always give back to people who need it more than I do.

"It's not even about me wanting the recognition. It's just being able to help out in any way possible."

Harris said when the idea of making a contribution came to him, the decision was easy to get involved.

"I just talked to my marketing guys, and I obviously talked it over with my family," he said. "I'm a big believer in God. I had a conversation with everybody and decided that this was my time to step up."

The decision of which cities to target was just as simple. Baltimore was natural. And New Orleans?

"They've been nothing but supportive of me since Day 1," he said. "So I figured, why not? That's a place I consider my home now. Whatever I can do, I try to do as much as possible.

"Just to see all the tragedy that it's bringing throughout the world is just crazy. It's something that everybody is going through. I think this is a time, more than ever, for everybody to just come together and stay positive and help one another get through it."

Football-wise, Harris – who led the NFL with 338 punt return yards on 36 returns, including a touchdown, and returned 24 kickoffs for 644 yards – is like his teammates and every other NFL player. Workouts are scaled to Spartan level as he attempts to prepare to build on a spectacular rookie season.

"It's rough," he said. "Everything is closing down, gyms are closing. I'm pretty sure they've closed down all football fields and everything. There's only so much you can do.

"I still try to do things in my house or around my house that can potentially help me. It's frustrating knowing that I can't just wake up and do my daily routine, go to the gym and do certain things. But everybody is going through adversity. You've just got to know how to deal with it."

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