Last May, the Houston Texans signed WHITNEY MERCILUS, OLB, to a contract extension. After that, Mercilus continued to have a career year, setting personal bests in sacks (12.0), tackles (50), tackles for loss (14) and fumble recoveries (two). Even with those numbers, he’s still only willing to call his season “decent” because he knows he’s got a lot more to give.
Heading into 2016, Mercilus promises Houston fans two things: more intensity on the field and getting more involved in the city. “I feel like my face is going to be out there more, especially with the foundation I’m creating,” he says. The Mercilus Foundation is just steps away from officially being introduced to Houston, and it’s one the Illinois graduate has had his hardworking hands in every step of the way (even filing the EIN paperwork). In short, “the focus is helping underprivileged families raising kids with disabilities,” he says. It’s a cause he says he’s “so in love” with, which for a moment makes you forget he’s a 6-foot-4, 258lb beast of a man who tackles other men for a living.
“It’s what I studied in college – Community Health Disability and Rehabilitation Concentration – essentially helping disabled people with home accommodations, home living, work space, transportation and more,” he explains. It’s clear from the start Mercilus is not only dedicated to the cause, he’s well-informed and educated on the matter. “That’s where my heart is,” he continues. “I love working with kids and wanted to do something to help families who can’t afford the medical equipment or the pharmaceuticals,” he says.
Mercilus is one of the rare athletes who sees the big picture, beyond the football field. “Education is very important – know your surroundings, especially with the presidential elections going on. Know exactly what’s going on in your community or how you can help impact somebody directly. Doing community work is very important because I would say to whom much is given, much is expected, so if you’re in a great position like myself and on a high platform, why not be a voice for somebody or a specific cause?” he says. It’s no secret Mercilus is a beast on the field, but what’s surprising is how educated and articulate he is. He says that catches people off-guard quite often. “When I go rub shoulders with top level people, they are often surprised how well-educated and mature I am versus a few counterparts in the NFL who have ended up in news reports,” he says.
As for how he beats the heat during these hot summer months? “I keep the air conditioner on all day every day. But I also go to the pool and grab some ice cream cones,” he jokes. He’ll almost always leave the house for a pool party invite. With the recent draft, Mercilus is ready to get back on the field. “I don’t get ahead of myself, but I’m excited to see where we are at as a complete team, especially with all the moves in the off-season,” he shares.
We asked Mercilus to fill in the blank: I wish more people in the world would be kinder.
Shot on Location at Hamilton Shirts