Character (Ac)Counts: CB Coty Sensabaugh

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Coty and Dominique Sensabaugh in the Dominican Republic

As I said in a previous post, the thing which keeps me watching the NFL, or, more specifically, the Steelers, is the stories. This is why I began my Character (Ac)Counts series five or six years ago. We have a new crop of Steelers, so let’s get to work.

I knew nothing about Sensabaugh, who Ivan called a “middling free agent signing,” other than I recalled having heard his name. The reason is most likely found in the picture which heads Ivan’s article, showing him getting rather badly beaten by Antonio Brown, back when he was a Tennessee Titan. All is forgiven now, however, and he wouldn’t be the first defensive back AB made look silly. In fact, AB has decleated, if you will, most of the top backs in the league against whom he has played.When I went to look for some information about Sensabaugh, though, my perspective changed, and I’m now quite excited to have him on the team. Here’s why.

From a footbally perspective, he is indeed middle of the pack. He was drafted by the Titans in 2012, in the 4th round. He played out his rookies contract there and then signed with the Rams in free agency last March. They cut him in October and the Giants picked him up right away. He played in every game afterwards in the regular season, but was injured prior to the Giant’s post-season game vs. Washington and didn’t play.

Without a doubt his career highlight so far is taking Jameis Winston’s first-ever NFL pass to the house for a touchdown in 2015. Let’s hope he has many more career highlights after this. Unfortunately, last year he didn’t have a lot of them. He didn’t have enough snaps for Pro Football Focus to rank him, but let’s just say they were underwhelmed.

But off the field he is a star in my book. I first discovered the other side of Sensabaugh when I ran across an article published in the Orange County Register after he signed with the Rams. It showed a picture of a very attractive couple, which was Sensabaugh and his bride-to-be, who he met at Clemson. They were having a destination wedding, with a twist. The wedding itself was in Atlanta, GA, where I presume the bride hails from. Now comes the “destination” part – the honeymoon. The wedding party and a number of family members joined them in the Dominican Republic to help them distribute shoes to five schools and orphanages.

Not a typical thing to do. But I’m getting the sense that he isn’t a typical NFL player. Here’s the explanation, from the above-linked article:

“We’ve been blessed tremendously,” Sensabaugh said, “and we believe in blessing others.”

The couple collected shoes for months and also raised money to buy more of them. The trip was organized through Soles4Souls,” a non-profit which has now donated 30 million pairs of shoes to those who need them through the efforts of people like the Sensabaughs.  Why shoes? Kids without shoes are sometimes prohibited from attending school and have an increased risk of contracting disease and infection, among other issues.

Dominique Sensabaugh went on a mission trip to the DR when she was at Clemson and said it changed her life. Coty had some experience in charitable endeavors- he supports the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, as he had a brother who died of leukemia in 2000, and runs a free football camp for kids in his hometown of Kingston, Tennessee, but always wanted to go on a mission trip. So his then-fiancée came up with the idea.

It all sounds great. So how did it go? Very well. So well, in fact, that the couple are organizing another trip for this summer. As the website devoted to their trips notes:

During the 5 day trip, this 11 person Soles4Souls #SensabaughMissionMoon team gave almost 600 pairs of shoes to children and adults across schools, churches and a boys & girls club [in] Puerto Plata. All of our travelers, starting with Coty and Dominique, loved on, encouraged and uplifted the children we served in the DR.  The team’s love and laughter was infectious and the opportunity and dignity that they gave through a pair of shoes will make waves in those children’s lives. Knowing some of their conditions – no running water, sold into prostitution at age 12, unable to go to school because they had no shoes – was just heartbreaking.  But, through the power of a pair of shoes, the team was able to encourage, empower and care for them during the time we spent together.  Our hope is that through the shoes we gave, the next chapter in their lives might look a little different than their last.

Earlier this year the Sensabaughs organized a shoe drive through their church and collected close to 17,000 pairs of gently used shoes. They also participated in the annual Soles4Souls #Barefoot4Them awareness campaign, and have committed to raising $40,000 to purchase shoes. Dominique wrote:

In September, Hurricane Matthew ravaged through Haiti killing over 1000 Haitian citizens and leaving hundreds of thousands in disarray. Providing Haitians with food and shelter are​​ primary concerns, however, individuals need clothing and shoes because many have cut their feet or stepped on old nails because so much debris is scattered about.

HELP US, HELP THEM! Here is an opportunity for you to sacrifice your time and/or resources, and truly to give to those in need.

The picture which heads the article is from last year’s trip. You can see lots more pictures here

Welcome to the Steelers, Mr. Sensabaugh. I wish you many more interceptions (as long as you’re in the Black and Gold, that is,) and hope that this is the place where everything comes together for you. In the meantime, thank you for making a difference with your life.

6 comments

  • That’s a great story, thanks for sharing! From a “footbally perspective” I’m still probably more interested in if Golson can ever be healthy and productive – as much excitement as the Ravens’ Tavon Young as generated he was as a draft prospect viewed basically as a poor man’s Senquez Golson. But the story for Sensabaugh is a great reason to root for this young man as well.

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    • I write these articles knowing full well that probably half the guys I write about won’t be Steelers in a year or two, but that’s no reason not to celebrate them when they are quality men. You can generally tell how secure I feel about their place on the roster by how soon I write about them…

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  • I wouldn’t presume to know. I’m just assuming he’s a bubble player. He never did all that much with Tennessee, he got cut by the Rams, and his stat line with the Giants was not impressive.

    In his case I wrote him up first because I happened across the great article about his honeymoon. But there does tend to be a reason I write up the late-round picks and UDFAs early on.

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  • Nice work, and keep them coming.
    Someone has to highlight the non knuckle heads in the league, and no major outlet seems interested.
    Also these remind us that as much as we love the NFL, it’s really not that big a deal in the big picture.
    Football wise, I was under the assumption that Coty was a good slot CB, and a not very good outside CB, and getting paid to be an outside CB.

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