SAN FRANCISCO -- For the first five years of his foundation's existence, Anquan Boldin made countless missteps. He'll be the first to admit that.
The wide receiver knew he wanted to help those less fortunate, but in practical terms, he had no idea how to go about doing so.
Twelve years later, Boldin has been fortunate enough to expand the Q81 Foundation's reach not only in every city he has played, but also internationally.
Boldin's philanthropic work has led to him being named a finalist for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award in consecutive seasons. This year's winner will be announced on Saturday at the NFL Honors award show.
Now, in an effort to help the next generation of players give back, Boldin is working to create a charitable "coaching tree" of sorts. On Thursday afternoon in the heart of Super Bowl City, Boldin and six of his NFL friends appeared on a panel to discuss their individual experiences in the community.
"I get so many young guys who come up to me for advice on how to start – that's why we're doing this," Boldin said. "Help is only a phone call away. Go straight to the source instead of making all the mistakes. I've been in the league 13 years and I'm still learning, but I know a lot more than I did back then."
Boldin was joined on stage by San Francisco 49ers teammate Torrey Smith, Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker, Arizona Cardinals defensive lineman Calais Campbell, Washington Redskins linebacker Trent Murphy, New Orleans Saints linebacker James Anderson and recently-retired Oakland Raiders defensive lineman Justin Tuck.
The idea for a mentorship program first came to Boldin a year ago. When reflecting on the questions he once had about starting a foundation – whether it be legal or personnel or logistics – the wide receiver wanted to make the path easier for younger players.
"I've known guys who start foundations and then run into whatever situation and then stop," Boldin said. "If they would've had someone there to help them and show them the right way to do it, their foundations would probably still be up and running.
"I want to give guys the opportunity to be successful from the start and have a person they can go to for help."
In the coming months, Boldin plans to have a camp for players who want to start foundations of their own. One of the first events in the works is a trip to Uganda.
"We'll show them the work we do with the partner organization and also coming back how they can help further the cause," Boldin said. "We're at the beginning stages, but we want to make information tangible for guys.
"I don't think there's enough information out there for young guys coming into this league. I think that would be a great help before they have to jump in and do things on their own."