2014 Arch Awards: St. Louis Community MVPs

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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Barksdale: As a whole, the St. Louis Rams do a very good job of getting involved in the community and making a difference off the field. One player who stands out in particular among this group, though, is right tackle Joe Barksdale.

Since arriving in St. Louis as a waiver claim in 2012, Barksdale has been very dedicated to making a difference in the community and giving back, and he’s made his presence felt through several major community initiatives.

Barksdale sponsored four families in need during the holiday season through his “Barksdale’s Blessing” contest, selecting several special families and attempting to make their holiday better despite the struggles that they’re facing in life.

Along with his good friend and fellow lineman Rodger Saffold, Barksdale spends days playing board games and video games with kids from the Children’s Miracle Network as part of the “Extra Life” campaign. Barksdale, who has spent the past year mastering his guitar skills, also participated in a “Play it Forward” program at KIPP Inspire Academy where he participated in a jam session with middle school music students and talked with them about the positive impact that music can have on a person’s life. He also regularly works as a motivational speaker for participants in a Salvation Army rehabilitation program.

In addition, Barksdale has participated in distributing Thanksgiving dinners to needy families with his offensive line mates, acted as a celebrity bell-ringer for the Salvation Army’s annual holiday fundraising, and visited schools and early childhood centers as part of the NFL’s United Way initiative.

As if Barksdale’s charity involvement wasn’t enough, he’s really ingrained himself in the St. Louis community as well. He has recently been making appearances as a blues guitarist at several St. Louis establishments, including the Broadway Oyster Bar and The Beale on Broadway.

Coming off a 2014 season in which he has played some fantastic games, Barksdale will be an unrestricted free agent for the first time this offseason. His contribution on the field will be what gets him paid, but equally valuable has been his impact on the community, and for that reason, it would be great to see Barksdale stay a Ram long-term.

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