NFL players spend offseason on Capitol Hill, working on issues from the opioid crisis to brain injuries

For most NFL players, the offseason is a chance to take a break from work. For Giants defensive back Michael Thomas, Saints receiver Austin Carr and Chiefs offensive lineman Ryan Hunter, the offseason is a chance to work outside the realm of football and inside the world of politics.

As CBS correspondent James Brown reported for "Face The Nation" (you can watch the video at the top of this article), the three NFL players have been spending their offseason working on Capitol Hill. 

"I'd rather be here than be in the Bahamas because I'm learning so much for the future, that this experience in its own beats having an umbrella drink on the beach," Hunter said.

Thomas is working for Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee for a second time. Carr is interning for Sen. Rand Paul. And Hunter is interning for freshman Sen. Josh Hawley. 

"This is fun because we're both new together. So Ryan's new, I'm new. We're kind of learning the ropes together," Hawley said. "I think it's phenomenal that NFL players like Ryan, who are very busy guys and have a career that they're pursuing, want to be involved in their communities, want to be involved in service."

The three players are working on a variety of issues. Carr has talked about the opioid crisis with Louisiana's attorney general, Hunter has met with the Society for Neuroscience to learn about brain injuries, and Thomas, who has kneeled during the national anthem to protest police brutality, has continued his work in that arena.

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Face The Nation

"After interning last year, I was like, 'I got to come back,' because I saw firsthand what she's doing and how much she's really on the ground putting in the work," Thomas said. "A lot of things that we were fighting for, from criminal justice reform, bail reform, education, reentry with juvenile detentions and stuff like that, she's already had bills written. They're on the floor, she's proposing these things. So I'm like, 'OK, this is how we can take that next step.'"

Thomas acknowledged that meaningful change can be a slow process, but he's confident after seeing the process first hand that it can work.

"It's going to take time," Thomas said. "Nothing happens overnight."

And he's willing to put in the necessary work to help create change.

"Me being here, being in the inside interning, I see the steps that need to be taken. I'm willing to put in the work. I'm willing to advocate for it," Thomas said. "I'm willing to help out Congresswoman Jackson Lee any way I can using my voice and my platform -- same way I did it on the football field in taking a knee."

CBS News has more on the story. And be sure to check out the video above for Face The Nation's entire report.

CBS Sports Writer

Sean Wagner-McGough joined CBS Sports in 2015 after graduating from UC Berkeley. A native of Seattle, Sean now resides in the Bay Area. He spends his spare time defending Jay Cutler on Twitter. Full Bio

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