ALAMEDA – The Raiders made it home from Mexico City in Tuesday morning’s pre-dawn hours. That day was the only chance for players to rest before preparing to face the Carolina Panthers.
Even still, the Raiders offensive line came to the facility.
There was important work to do.
Offensive linemen held an event to give turkeys and all the fixings to needy families, military families and community partners before the Thanksgiving holiday. Players picked up the check for everything given away at an event introduced by left tackle Donald Penn.
Penn started this tradition as a rookie in Tampa Bay, where he and fellow linemen Davin Joseph and Jeremy Trueblood found a way to give back.
“We were looking for a way to impact the community,” Penn said this week. “As an offensive line you’re only as good as the next person, so we wanted to do something as a group.
“It started it then, and tried to feed more families each year. I’m glad they’re still doing it in Tampa and that I could bring it out here with the Raiders.”
It’s become popular in the East Bay, and was appreciated by players new to the tradition.
“It was a great experience,” rookie tackle Vadal Alexander said. “It was gratifying to be able to help families in need and do it as an offensive line. As someone involved with this for the first time, it was really cool.”
Penn was moved by how easy it was to get his teammates to give time and money to this cause.
“There was no hesitation,” Penn said. Everybody was into it and wanted to contribute, which is great that everybody was on board.”
This Thanksgiving tradition has been a fixture throughout Penn’s career, which will hit a major milestone Sunday when he makes his 150th consecutive start.
“I’m blessed,” Penn said. “I started at the bottom (as an undrafted free agent) and worked my way up. I hope people look at it as an example of why you should never count yourself out. I was a low free agent with $5,000 bonus. Hopefully guys look at that and use it as motivation. If they see I did it, that means they can do it, too.”