Community Player of the Week: Johnny Hekker

Posted Dec 27, 2012

The St. Louis Rams Community Player of the Week is punter Johnny Hekker.

Entering the season, head coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead committed the Rams to a full scale youth movement. Nowhere was that more apparent than on special teams where Hekker and kicker Greg Zuerlein have proven their value throughout the course of the season.

On the season, Hekker averages just over 45 yards per punt, with a net average of 39.9 yards. He has flipped the field position for opponents, highlighted by his 55-yard punt during the home rematch against the San Francisco 49ers that pinned the division rivals at their own 1-yard line.

In addition to his leg, Hekker has also shown off his arm. Three times during the season he has been called upon to take part in trick plays. And three times he has succeeded, including a touchdown pass to Danny Amendola against the Seattle Seahawks earlier in the season.

Hekker’s versatility has translated to his community efforts as well. His holiday giving got underway during the 18th annual Urban League Turkey Distribution. Hekker and some of his teammates lent their support to the effort by making donations to help cover the costs of Thanksgiving meals for over 2,000 needy families. But their efforts went a step further. On the day of the event, Hekker and crew dispersed to the three Urban League Centers throughout St. Louis and the surrounding area to pass out the meals to families. Hekker volunteered at the St. Louis City location and signed autographs in addition to handing out turkeys.

As part of another effort to spread cheer, Hekker helped with linebacker Rocky McIntosh’s Holiday Fun event. After bussing second and third graders to the Emerson Family YMCA, Hekker and company encouraged the students to be active, and backed it up by leading them through a series of warm-up exercises. Following the fitness program, the kids were taken to a local Walmart where each received a $100 gift card to purchase winter items, school supplies and a toy for Christmas. Hekker took a group of kids through the store and helped them with their holiday shopping spree.

Most recently, he took part in the 20th annual Motion for Kids Holiday Party. The event, hosted by the Steven Jackson Foundation and the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis, allowed over 3,000 kids whose lives have been affected by the legal system to enjoy some holiday spirit. When they stepped out of the tunnel and on to the field of the Edward Jones Dome, the kids were faced with a variety of opportunities. Hekker and many of his Rams teammates signed autographs and posed for holiday photos. Kids also had the chance to meet Santa Claus, as well as participate in fitness-themed activities and other games to win prizes. At the end of the party, each child received Christmas gifts provided by Rams players, coaches and other staff members and members of the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis.

Hekker also supported the St. Louis Area Foodbank and St. Louis Sports Commission in early December during the 10th annual Taste of the NFL – St. Louis. Many of St. Louis’ top restaurant and beverage companies were on hand to offer samples of their signature items. In addition to getting his fill of food, Hekker interacted with fans in attendance and signed autographs.

Earlier in the season, Hekker joined many of his teammates for the 17th annual Make-A-Wish Celebrity Server Night of Wishes. Throughout the evening, Hekker worked the room, signing autographs and posing for pictures with those in attendance in exchange for “tips.” Over the course of the evening, Hekker and the Rams helped raise over $225,000 for kids with terminal or life-threatening illnesses. The amount was enough to fund the wishes of over 45 Wish Kids.

Since joining the Rams, Hekker has filled a variety of roles. His value to the organization has been on display with his leg, his arm and his efforts in the community.

“Johnny has been a tremendous addition to the team,” said Molly Higgins, Rams’ vice president of corporate communications/civic affairs.  “He has an outgoing personality and really understands his unique opportunity to help others, so he is always more than willing to help out whenever called upon.  He has a great future ahead of him both on and off the field.”

About the Rams Community Player of the Week

Each week during the 2012 season, the St. Louis Rams will select a player who has made a positive impact on the Greater St. Louis community, giving of himself off of the field. Each honored Rams Community Player of the Week will receive a gift certificate to Ruth’s Chris Steak House, the Official Steak House of the St. Louis Rams.