A Navarre High School football standout turned NFL player is helping to promote the game’s safety.
Taylor Haugen was a Niceville High School student who died after a liver injury sustained during a football game in 2008.
“T,” as he was known, was a natural leader among his friends and teammates, a mentor to younger students, and an inspiration to all who knew him. He was a selfless young man who left an indelible mark on the community through his faith and compassion for his friends, team, community and church.
Jordan Leggett, now a rookie tight end for the New York Jets, was a high school football player in neighboring Navarre when he learned of Taylor’s death.
“I remember after one Friday night game in high school a lot of people talking about a kid from Niceville who was being airlifted to the hospital, only to find out that he later passed away,” Leggett said.
“It was very sad knowing that someone that young lost his life, but it really is bringing about change in the sport of football to keep us all more informed and safe.”
PROMOTING FOOTBALL SAFETY
After his death, Taylor’s parents created the Taylor Haugen Foundation to honor Taylor’s legacy by recognizing youth leaders and promoting sports safety.
That has included providing a custom-fit piece of abdominal protective gear called an EvoShield. The EvoShield fits into the side pockets of tight-fitting rib shirts, and eventually molds to fit each athlete.
Leggett has decided to use his new platform as an NFL player to raise awareness and funds for the foundation and its support of young athletes and leaders in Florida and across the country.
Through his Touchdowns for Taylor campaign on Pledge It, fans and supporters can pledge for every receiving touchdown the Jets score this season.
Fans can also make a one-time flat donation.
‘IT’S A GREAT FEELING’
When asked why he decided to use his new platform as an NFL player to support the Taylor Haugen Foundation, Leggett said, “Thinking back to high school now, I would have never thought I'd be in the position I am now, playing in the NFL. I am truly blessed for my high school and college coaches for helping me get to where I am now. It’s a great feeling, being the first football player out of Navarre to get drafted, so hopefully I'm opening the door up for many more athletes from my area.
“I think all types of protection are necessary for younger kids playing the sport, because I have witnessed just how dangerous it can be.
“By protecting the abdominal area, we are protecting our organs, so I stand by the foundation to protect kids so that football will be looked at as a sport that is still awesome and somewhat safe in the long run.”