The Washington Redskins are not going to the Super Bowl this year, but one of their biggest fans is.
Hunter Paulin, a fourth-grader from Indian Head, Maryland, won the NFL Play 60 Super Bowl contest. That means Hunter, his parents and his older brother Brandon will be flying to New Orleans for the big game. Hunter will run onto the field and hand the ball to a game official before the opening kickoff on February 3.
NFL Play 60 is a program in which the National Football League, along with the Quaker Oats Company, challenges kids to get at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day and to eat more-healthful foods.
You probably have seen the NFL Play 60 commercials. There’s one in which kids and NFL players pile off the school bus and take over a playground. And there’s a hilarious ad in which a kid tells Cam Newton that he’s going to replace Newton someday as the Carolina Panthers’ quarterback.
Hunter had to write about how an NFL player inspires him to stay active and eat healthfully. No surprise, the 10-year-old chose the Redskins’ star rookie quarterback, Robert Griffin III. NFL Play 60 picked Hunter’s essay out of more than 5,500 entries.
Hunter is a real Play 60 kid. Even though he was born with heart defects that meant he had to have operations on his heart, Hunter stays active.
He can’t play contact sports such as tackle football and lacrosse, but when I asked him which sports and games he plays, Hunter had a long list. He plays tennis, golf, table tennis and touch football. He also plays capture the flag in an after-school sports program.
Hunter rides his bike, swims and races his three older brothers. Like all little brothers, he had to admit that “they usually beat me.”
He is happy his cardiologist (that’s a heart doctor), Jennifer Lindsey, has given him the okay to play flag football next year.
Hunter is careful to eat properly, too. He drinks plenty of orange juice, milk and water instead of loading up on soda and drinks with caffeine. Hunter likes salads so much that some of his classmates at Indian Head Elementary call him a “salad freak.”
Now that his beloved Redskins are out of the playoffs, Hunter is rooting for the Baltimore Ravens to make it to the Super Bowl. When I asked him about his favorite Baltimore players, Hunter quickly answered: “Ray Lewis, Joe Flacco and Ray Rice.”
His room is filled with Redskins photos and a helmet signed by several Redskins players, including Santana Moss, Alfred Morris and London Fletcher. When I asked about a picture frame that’s empty, Hunter smiled and said, “I’m saving that for a picture from the Super Bowl.”
Fred Bowen writes the sports opinion column for KidsPost. He is the author of 18 sports books for kids that combine sports fiction and sports history. His latest book is called “Go for the Goal!”