Bills safety Jairus Byrd allowed his play to do the talking during his inaugural NFL campaign, now it's his actions off the field that are speaking louder than any of the big plays he made during his stellar rookie season.
About one month ago, Byrd came up with a novel concept. Instead of using the social network twitter to tell fans he was taking a jog, or eating, or posting his activity at some other interval in his day, he decided to use the forum to encourage the spread of random acts of kindness. Byrd's page, 'Louder Than Words,' has done just that, bringing people from all over the world closer by way of sharing good deeds that they have done or witnessed.
From helping a single mother carry a baby stroller down a flight of stairs, to providing roadside assistance to a motorist in need, twitter users have already shared numerous acts of kindness on Byrd's page in the short period of time it has been active. According to Byrd, it is stories like this that helped inspire him to create the page in the first place.
"It was something that I talked about with a few people close to me, something that I wanted to get out there," he said. "People doing stuff for others out of kindness, that doesn't involve money or things like that. That's all I was thinking about."
His choice to begin such a campaign on twitter, a growing social medium, happened to be a chance pairing.
"It just kind of worked out that way for me," Byrd said. "I thought it would be the best way to go about it. That's the way I chose to do it."
While twitter does give users a chance to intimately interact with others, in 140 characters or less per "tweet," many have strayed from posting insightful thoughts with the limited space, instead providing the basic details of a given day. Byrd, on the other hand, has devoted his allotment to sharing personal life experiences that emphasize the importance kindness plays in human interaction. He hopes 'Louder Than Words' could be the start of a new way people choose to use twitter.
"This is a way to promote people getting out and doing things throughout their day. Everyone goes to their job or does something," Byrd said. "Anyone with some free time in their day can do something (to help others) that doesn't even take that much time."
While his representative, Maximum Sports Management, released a series of press releases in the past few weeks shedding light on his initiative, Byrd essentially began the twitter page on a dry run with a series of tweets explaining his intentions. Right from the start, the feedback he received was very positive.
"It went really well (at the start)," he said. "A lot of people thought that it was a good thing to do. People were really encouraged by it."
Although the main idea for the page is to encourage a compilation of deeds performed or witnessed by Byrd's followers, the Pro Bowl defensive back has stuck to his own theme, and has tried to maintain a positive and helpful attitude in his own daily life as well.
"Throughout the day, if I see someone less fortunate than me, I will help them out," he said. "Just carrying something for them, or going out of my way to give someone a ride, things like that."
For those who have seen the film Pay It Forward, one may see a parallel between 'Louder Than Words' and the film's plotline, where a young boy performs a good deed for three other people, with the premise being they eventually "pay it forward" to another three people, starting a chain reaction of random acts of kindness. Byrd said he appreciated the message that the film was trying to convey, and mentioned that it played a role in inspiring his own endeavor.
Various media outlets, including ESPN.com, have picked up on Byrd's campaign to promote good deeds, and he has received praise from around the sports world, even from those who are not necessarily Bills supporters. One of the most noteworthy proponents has been Cal Ripken, Jr., the Baseball Hall of Fame infielder who is also known for his charitable work off the playing field. Byrd said he was honored someone of Ripken's stature, as well as other peers, appreciate the message he is trying to send about kindness being a vital component of life.
"Cal Ripken, Jr., his name speaks for itself. That's top shelf and as good as it gets," Byrd said. "For him to take notice of that, it means an awful lot to me."
Based on the exposure that his initiative has already received, the page currently has over 300 followers and has likely been viewed by countless others, Byrd would love to see 'Louder Than Words' expand its reach and continue for as long as possible, whether or not it surpasses the backdrop of twitter.
"It depends. I really don't know where it is going to go. I would like to see it become something that is extensive," he said. "I hope it blows up and takes off. That's my goal."