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Benjamin Watson helping to raise funds for burned Louisiana churches

2015 Walter Payton NFL Man Of The Year Finalist Press Conference

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - FEBRUARY 05: Finalist Benjamin Watson of the New Orleans Saints speaks during the 2015 Walter Payton Man of the Year Finalist press conference prior to Super Bowl 50 at the Moscone Center West on February 5, 2016 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)

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Former Saints tight end Benjamin Watson was always one of the most socially active players in the NFL, and a two-time finalist for the league’s Walter Payton Man of the Year award.

Now, the recently retired tight end is trying to help rebuild three Louisiana churches.

Via Rod Walker of the New Orleans Advocate, Watson said he reached out to the pastors of the three churches to see what could be done.

“In speaking with these pastors I am in awe and inspired by their faith and courage, comforting their congregations and family members,” Watson said. “Through sadness and shock they spoke of forgiveness for the arsonist and grace for tomorrow. Most importantly, they spoke of being overwhelmed by support from people of goodwill and all religions from around the country. And they were humbled by what God has already done through this series of events.”

A 21-year-old man has been arrested for three counts of counts of simple arson of a religious building. The three churches —St. Mary Baptist Church in Port Barre, Greater Union Baptist Church in Opelousas and Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Opelousas — were burned in a 10-day span in late March and early April.

“While I reserve judgment on the man arrested for this crime until proven guilty, the fact that black churches were burned to the ground is a reminder of the fear and pain so many communities have repeatedly experienced since emancipation,” Watson said. “This trauma resides deep within all of us, black and white, in America.”

Watson also used his social media platform to spread the word for donations in helping to rebuild for the congregations.