Thomas Morstead, the 6-foot-4, 235-punter for the New Orleans Saints, showed his size during the NFC divisional playoff game when he was forced to tackle Minnesota punt returner Marcus Sherels following the Saints' opening drive. The tackle seemed normal until Morstead stood up and winced while holding his rib cage. The eight-year veteran continued to punt throughout the game, despite being in serious pain. He drilled 56- and 54-yard punts after the injury, holding onto his ribs after each.
After the “Minnesota Miracle” occurred, Saints players headed to the locker room to escape the celebration of the Vikings and their fans. However, according to NFL rules, the game couldn't end until after the Vikings' point-after attempt, forcing several Saints players - including Morstead - to come back onto the field.
This classy act and the courage Morstead displayed playing through injury earned the respect of a number of Vikings fans.
After the game, Morstead was focused on healing his ribs, which he later discovered was torn cartilage. Minnesota fans were focused on Morstead, too, taking to Reddit and social media to spread the word of his foundation, What You Give Will Grow.
WYGWG is a foundation started by Morstead and his wife, Lauren, with the goal of helping the New Orleans community, with a focus on children battling cancer.
Sunday night, Morstead received a call from his foundation’s executive director, Dennis Lomonaco, who told him that many small donations were coming in, probably from the exposure during the game. It wasn’t until later that night that Lomonaco discovered the donations were coming from Minnesota addresses.
“I just wanted to know why, I didn’t know why people we’re doing it. I guess they were inspired,” Morstead said Thursday morning.
Upon learning about the generosity from Vikings fans, Morstead promised to donate the money he received from Vikings fans to a Minnesota children’s hospital’s Child Life Program. “The money should stay in their community,” Morstead said.
Donations hit $8,260 Wednesday morning and then snowballed. Morstead tweeted:
More than $200,000 had been donated as of Friday mid-morning. The Saints and Vikings are donating money as well after being inspired by the movement.
Morstead plans to fly to Minnesota a day or two before the Super Bowl to present the check to a children’s hospital’s Child Life Program.
What You Give Will Grow was started in 2014 with a mission of improving the lives of those in need through support of local causes and organizations in the New Orleans and Gulf South communities. Those who wish to donate to the foundation can visit https://www.wygwg.org/mission/.