Eagles’ Nakobe Dean aims to empower Philadelphia youth

Nakobe Dean
Nakobe Dean
Nakobe Dean / Brand Architects

Philadelphia Eagles rookie linebacker Nakobe Dean prides himself on his impact not only on the field but also on the value of education.

The Eagles’ third-round draft pick—who is 30-college credits away from obtaining his Mechanical Engineering degree from the University of Georgia—says he once believed he would have become a doctor from experiences encountered around his parents. His father, Byron Dean, a doctor, and mother, Neketta Dean, both military veterans, influenced the Mississippi native’s emphasis on education as he was reminded that his “mind would take him further than his feet” in life.

Dean, 21, now desires to make it his mission to impact the youth in Philadelphia by taking over the Student Health and Oral Health Impact Project initiative.

“My parents have always influenced and exposed to me how important health and education align,” said Dean. “A lot of children in underserved communities sometimes lack certain health privileges like oral and eye (care) that hold them back. Those things go hand-and-hand with affecting a child’s educational performance.”

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The initiative, which started in 2018, focuses on closing care gaps by working with schools to increase access, reduce absenteeism, and improve health outcomes for children.

Dean and DOCS Health are partnering with the School District of Philadelphia to ensure students at local schools receive fully expense-paid oral and vision treatment as part of the “Best Year Ever School Tour,” set to begin Tuesday, Oct. 25.

The first pep rally stop will be at C.C.A. Baldi Middle School in Northeast Philadelphia, featuring giveaways, raffle prizes, and assembly-style conversations with students to sign up for various free health services being offered. Mobile units will travel school-to-school to assist and make sure that every student, regardless of insurance coverage or financial background, has the proper care needed to be successful in the classroom.

“The District is proud to work with a range of partners to improve student health and overall well-being,” said Dr. Kendra McDow, School System Medical Officer for the School District of Philadelphia. “We know that poor oral health can impact children’s performance, focus and engagement at school, so we are appreciative of the Oral Health Impact Project and the Philadelphia Eagles for the work they do to bring dental care into schools and support Philadelphia students.”

The Student Health and Oral Health Impact Project was formerly led by former Eagles safety and Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award nominee Rodney McLeod.

Coming in as a rookie, Dean says this is something he wants to invest his time and efforts into as a presenter for this program and now being a Philadelphian to help provide the resources needed to give students the best chance at success.

“I want to encourage the youth to be diverse in regards to careers they want to pursue,” he said. “Be more than just an athlete.”

In 2021, Dean was the recipient of the Butkus Award, which recognizes the top linebacker in the nation. He became a College Football National Champion with the Georgia Bulldogs a year later in their victory over Alabama.

While the rookie is very early into his NFL playing career, Dean says he has visions of future program ideas that offer the youth a deeper dive into the mechanical engineering career space.

“What I’ve learned so far in Philadelphia is that this city is a blue-collar city that really cherishes athletes who want to be a part of the Philadelphia community,” Dean said.