Gil Brandt, NFL.com Senior Analyst (June 2, 2004) -- In the 29 years I spent with the Dallas Cowboys, people told me I wouldn't have anything to do in the time between the draft and training camp. Players who play in the league nowadays also have little work to accomplish in the offseason. As most of you know, most jobs around the world don't have an "offseason." So what do players do from February to July? First and foremost, they rest. They also work out and participate in team programs like minicamps and passing camps. But there's more than football and physical conditioning that takes up their time. Many players and coaches, as well as former players and former coaches, are involved in charitable activities to raise money for civic purposes. Most notably, people interested in fundraising for their school, town or church will put together an event where fans get a chance to interact and partake in activities with -- for lack of a better term -- celebrities. There are thousands of these events around the country every offseason. People use these as a vehicle to raise money, but the reason they're so successful is because the celebrities give their time without asking for compensation. They may get a free room to stay in and a free flight to get there and back, along with a free round of golf if it's a golf outing, but there are no appearance fees. At most, they get a goodie bag. These guys do it out of the kindness of their hearts. It's that kind of generosity that has led to events like the Reba Charity Golf Classic, run by Reba McEntire, which has raised $4.5 million since 1987. That money has gone to building a hospital in Tex-oma, the North Texas/South Oklahoma area, and provides health care for many families who would be miles and miles away from it. A sign these kinds of charity events are growing by leaps and bounds, the Reba Classic lasted an entire weekend in which Reba brought in stars like Brooks and Dunn, The Statler Brothers, Vince Gill and others. That also includes current and former NFL players. From an autograph session on Friday, to a fishing tournament on Saturday, to a concert Sunday night, to a golf tournament on Monday, it's a non-stop party that give people a chance to really hobnob with the faces and names they've seen on TV. Another aspect of these gatherings that goes unnoticed is that it's run by volunteers. David Bayless, the chairman of the Reba event, is in the insurance business up there in Texoma. John Bullard is a guy I played with and he's a pharmacist in that area. A lady by the name of Karen Alford was another woman I played with, and they are all volunteers. They sold tickets, they got sponsors and recruited prizes from community businesses, they helped set up various areas, and they did it all out of the goodness of their hearts. They get all sorts of well-known ex-players to participate in these events. I played a round with Jim Ray Smith, who came out of Baylor and started with the Browns in 1958. He was a 218-pound defensive end and built himself into a five-time Pro Bowl 245-pound guard. There was David Parks, the first player picked in the 1963 draft and went to three Pro Bowls. He got a whopping $20,000 signing bonus, half of which he used to pay off his mother's mortgage. And of course there's Billy Jo Dupree, Dallas' first-round draft choice who played with us for 10 or 11 years (and made three Pro Bowls). He went on to be a well-known member of the Dallas community. There were former baseball players there as well. But what I like best, and what I gather the other "celebrities" like best, is talking with other former players and such. These are people who I didn't speak with much while I worked with the Cowboys, but can get to know and talk with now. Smith told me about how camp was with Paul Brown in 1958. In those days, there was one platoon. Brown would run everybody in full pads with no helmets. The faster guys would be offensive linemen; the slower guys would be on defense. That was his way of deciding who was going to play where. Smith said he played in the college all-star game against the Browns and played left tackle weighing 218 pounds. Nowadays there are punters heavier than that! I even spent time with Brown, but it is still so interesting to hear these little details about him. To make any tourney a success, you need liquid libations because the weather is warm. Every hole on this tournament, they had a Pepsi station and a Miller station donated by the local bottlers. You could imagine that some people were really thirsty after every few holes. This is the essence of what these charitable events are all about: Bringing together people, celebrities, sponsors and events to all push toward one goal of helping out the community. You can see why so many players like to lend their names to these. For instance, I am headed to Shreveport, La., soon to take part in the Willie Roaf Tournament. They filled 180 players to play in this tourney, and they're playing at one of the nicest golf courses in Louisiana. Again, different players will come in, different sponsors will step up and different people will pay and participate all to raise funds for the Louisiana Tech athletic department, which has a hard time raising money for their programs. I know we'll be playing in the morning and in the afternoon, followed by an old farmer's market that will include a big crawfish boil and an auction gala that night where people can bid on memorabilia from the likes of Roaf, Terry Bradshaw and others. But people will also bid on vacation packages, sporting events like the Final Four and a lot more. And all the money, as I said, goes toward the school. Somewhere every Friday through Monday, except when there are big holidays, a fundraiser like these are held somewhere in the United States. If every event raised $100,000, then the grand total from all these events would be in the tens of millions -- there's that many of them. And this is what players and coaches do when they're not preparing for the upcoming season. They're very active in trying to do things that help a community or school. If you do your part, who knows, maybe we'll tee off together sometime.