Reno Mahe won't be home for Thanksgiving this year. While others are eating turkey and watching football, he'll be in American Samoa, helping victims of the earthquake and tsunami that hit the island in late September.
The 29-year-old former Eagles running back/punt returner said he got involved when Gabe Reid, a former tight end with the Bears, asked for help in collecting clothing for the victims.
The pair have Samoan roots (Mahe is Tongan), are both Mormons, were teammates at Brigham Young and are in business together.
Mahe said he thought the NFL might like to get involved, in part because of the lengthy list of players with Samoan backgrounds. According to several Web sites, there are currently 28 Samoans playing in the league.
Mahe called Eagles coach Andy Reid, who called NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who called Mahe. The result?
The NFL and the NFL Players Association are contributing $50,000 to the American Red Cross to help with relief efforts and sending Mahe and Gabe Reid along goodwill ambassadors.
"It [the tsunami] was getting a lot of attention early," Mahe told the Daily News yesterday. "Then it just died out in the media. But there is still a need there. We're going over there to help . . . to say thank you to the Red Cross and FEMA workers. We'll be there for 9 days."
While at BYU, Mahe said he always regretted choosing football over participating in a 2-year service mission, which, while not required, is customary among young Mormons.
Might this, in some small way, make up for that?
"Yeah, in some way. But 9 days won't replace 2 years," Mahe said. "It's going to take me the rest of my life to pay that back."
Mahe, who played for the Eagles from 2003-08 and led the league in punt returning in 2005, said he still has fond memories of Philadelphia.
Perhaps with Brian Westbrook out with a concussion, he'd like to come back and help out?
"I don't think so," he said with a laugh. "Unless they're going to give me a really sweet signing bonus."