Chris Johnson first wrote the names of the 27 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims on his cleats. Now the Titans running back has sent gifts to the family of Grace McDonnell after speaking with them by telephone.
Johnson had the names on his cleats for Monday night's game against the New York Jets, and he scored on a franchise-record 94-yard touchdown run. The family reached out to Johnson through the Titans, and the running back spoke Tuesday with the McDonnells and Grace's older brother, Jack.
"You get a whole sense of it and just him and the kids ... that he was trying to be strong, but it's a situation I can tell how he feels," Johnson said Thursday after practice. "I lost my grandmother earlier in this year and just knowing how that feels I just kind of wanted to do something to at least try to lift his spirits."
Johnson also became a father earlier this year with the birth of twin boys. He said that just made him appreciate his sons even more. He said he sent a few Christmas gifts to Jack McDonnell and the family, and he also shared his telephone number in case they need anything that he might help with in the future.
The Titans running back said he still plans to auction off the shoes to help families. But he sounded reluctant Thursday as he discussed the shootings.
"I kind of want to step back," Johnson said. " ... I kind of did it for the kids and the family. I really don't want to make it about me."
The Titans aren't the only team seeking to support the Newtown community in the aftermath of the Newtown tragedy. The Miami Dolphins have sent flowers in memory of a fan who died in the shooting rampage.
School psychologist Mary Sherlach rooted for the Dolphins. Her funeral will be Friday.
"It just came to our attention that one of the individuals who was one of the victims up there was an avid Dolphin fan," coach Joe Philbin said Thursday. "We just thought it would be the right thing to do."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.