Pierre Garçon has been an underdog for much of his life. Playing college football for a division III school in Mount Union, then becoming a sixth-round pick of the Indianapolis Colts in 2008, the 31-year-old has defied the odds overcoming every obstacle thrown his way. Fast forward to 2017, Pierre is entering his tenth campaign in the NFL after inking a fresh five-year contract to go out West and reunite with old coach Kyle Shanahan, this time as a San Francisco 49er.
After being born to Haitian immigrant parents on the corn farms of rural Carmel, New York, work ethic was instilled in Pierre at a young age — before moving to Palm Beach, Florida, where he would graduate from John I. Leonard Community High School. Garçon has made it a point to never forget about his upbringing, and give back to the communities who are less fortunate.
His Helping Hands Foundation donates supplies and facilities to provide support for Haiti, as well as Florida, “We try to provide whatever facilities they need to make life a little easier for the people down there, giving back from the blessings that we have,” says the star NFL wideout.
Billboard caught up with Garçon, who leads the Niners in receiving yards through two games this year, to get his thoughts on moving to the Bay, his favorite Haitian artists, and Colin Kaepernick not being in the league, in addition to much more.
What’s the transition to the Bay area been like for you?
Pierre Garçon: It’s been cool. I’m getting used to it and learning a lot about the Bay Area culture. It’s been great weather, so I definitely love that so far.
Why did you switch from number 88 to 15 this season?
I wanted something different and out of the ordinary. It’s somewhat of a reincarnation [Laughs].
As you enter your 10th year, what’s it like taking a leadership role with younger guys behind you in the receiving core?
It’s fun, helping and teaching those guys. I had help when I was young. Going out every day working and keep proving how to get it done in this league, as well as practicing the right way making it all come together on Sundays.
Your Helping Hands Foundation does a lot of good work in Florida and in the Haitian communities. What do you have going on with that at the moment?
We do a lot of stuff, especially with Haiti right now. Helping out in the community with whatever they need. We try to provide whatever facilities they need to make life a little easier for the people down there, giving back from the blessings that we have. In West Palm Beach we help out in the community as well, from my local high school to everything that we can come up with, ranging from back-to-school giveaways, Thanksgiving and different times of the year.
When was the last time you visited Haiti?
October of 2016 with the Redskins, Dan Snyder sent us down for a day to give out medical supplies at a hospital from our training room. Anything from IVs, bandages and supplies we have at our disposal to help. They could use as many free supplies as we could give them.
Who are some of your favorite Haitian music artists?
Of course, Wyclef Jean. Young Thug and DJ Sam Sneak in there as well. There’s a lot of guys down in Miami as well, like Billy Blue. It goes without saying for Kodak Black. They all do a good job representing Haiti, and we’re proud and going to support them.
What’s on your pre-game playlist when you’re getting ready for a game?
Kodak Black and a lot of Florida music. Turn-up music for sure. I listen to a lot of southern music as well. I like Future and Jeezy. When you’re going out on that field on Sundays, you need something that gets you going.
Going off of that, what are a few of your favorite albums of all-time?
Jeezy’s TM:103 Hustlerz Ambition is a good one I listen to a lot. JAY Z and Kanye West’s Watch the Throne. Putting me on the spot [Laughs]. Drake’s Take Care, too. I don’t want to go with the typical albums everyone is saying.
Do you still feel the effects of Colin Kaepernick in San Francisco, and do you believe he’s being blackballed from the league?
I don’t think the team is suffering from anything he did last year, but everyone supports him and wants him to be in the league. There’s a lot of things that come with him. We know he’s a good player and want him to be on a team, he definitely jas the talent to be in the league. But it sucks the way things are playing out.
How often do you hear from fans about having you on their fantasy football team?
We hear that a lot. If it’s not the first thing, it’s the second people talk to us about. It’s cool though, it keeps the fans excited and tuned in. It’s a great thing for the league and one of those things everyone talks about.
It’s insane you haven’t made a Pro Bowl in your career. Is that something that is still a goal for yourself?
I don’t really pay attention to those things. That game has really turned into a popularity contest more than anything. As long as my teammates and organization is happy with my play, that’s the only thing I could really focus on and worry about.
Do you have any post-career aspirations once your playing days are over?
I know I’ll definitely help high-school football as a coach, just to be in position to keep the competitive spirit going.