Darnell Dockett (left) and Larry Fitzgerald check kids out at Toys R Us during Dockett's "Happy Holidays With Nine-O" event.
They spend the season anchoring the defensive line, but Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell took turns as Christmas pillars for needy children Monday and Tuesday.
Holding their annual events – Dockett's "Happy Holidays With Nine-O" and Campbell's "Shop With a Jock" – is about, in technical terms, the two NFL stars putting up their own money so kids will get a new toy or two they might not have otherwise received.
It always reaches a far deeper level for each player, however.
"It's always been in my heart that once I was able to give back that I would," Dockett said. "I have been blessed to make it this far in my career. This is just a small part of it, I do a lot in the offseason for kids, trying to help the next generation out and maybe motivate other guys in the NFL and NBA to get out and do things for the kids, especially once that aren't privileged.
"This is one of my best times of the year. We have fun."
Both players had teammate support. Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald showed up at both places, serving as a cashier at the Toys R Us (Dockett, who was bagging on Fitzgerald's aisle, joked that the two of them would have worked the jobs permanently had the lockout lasted).
The defensive line was well-represented, with David Carter, Dan Williams, Vonnie Holliday, Ricky Lumpkin, Ronald Talley and Nick Eason all made appearances, along with others like Paris Lenon, Stephen Williams and Anthony Sherman.
"The holidays are giving back," Eason said. "All NFL players, we are all blessed in our own lives, and it obviously comes with financial stability. It's important for us to give back, to give our time and let people know we have a lot more going on than just playing football on the field."
Eason had his giving-back moment at Campbell's evening. One kid wanted to get a Wii video game system, cost well above the $100 limit. Eason picked up the difference.
Dockett gave a shopping spree to 100 needy kids from south Phoenix. Campbell gave a night to remember for 50 homeless children from the UMOM New Day Center.
"I love the kids, and seeing their faces," Campbell said. "I'm in a position to give back, and they are at an important time in anyone's life."
The players spent the time helping the kids choose their gifts – watching Fitzgerald at Wal-Mart shepherd three tween girls through their picks was a sight – and doled out advice on working hard and staying positive.
"To see these kids and their smiles when they walk through the door, to give them a high five and get toys for Christmas, that's what it is all about," Holliday said. "To be a player and a Cardinal, to give back, that's what it's all about."