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  • February 9, 2015

Richard Sherman, Pete Carroll help kids overcome adversity in new documentary

When a bullying scandal erupted in the NFL in the 2013-14 season, Troy Polamalu heard one common underlying reaction from many fans and observers: Surprise.

After all, football players, he pointed out aren’t usually portrayed as victims of bullies. In movies and TV shows, they’re often portrayed as bullies.

“In truth we’re not different than anybody else we have problems whether it’s bullying, bigotry, the NFL is no different than any other occupation no different than any of other social groups,” he told For The Win.

Polamalu said when he was growing up he was bullied as well.

His story isn’t uncommon among NFL players, which explains why, he said, NFL players are often so ready to take up the cause of helping out kids who are bullied — like in an annual documentary, NFL Characters Unite, about NFL players sharing their stories and helping kids who are facing tough times with their peers that will air on USA Network Friday night.

Polamalu participated in the program in a prior year’s documentary and mentored a young girl who was teased for her hair — which, like the Steelers veteran, was curly and flowing.

“She had a very blue collar upbringing, which I had some of that experience when I was young so I was able to connect with them so it was just nice to be able to talk to them,” he said.

In this year’s documentary, Richard Sherman, Darren Sproles, Jamaal Charles and Mario Williams offer their help to kids in their community facing tough times.

The documentary was produced in part by Charlie Ebersol, who said he found himself badly bullied when growing up. He said at one point while hearing some of the kids’ stories, he realized he could relate to them easily — something he thinks many NFL players felt as well. “I think its only natural when you gain celebrity or you gain wealth that you oftentimes you look back at your life and you think about what you wish you could have done differently,” he said. “And oftentimes you try to do that.”