Drue Chrisman is no ordinary professional football player. He’s a punter who began his career at Ohio State, played for the Cincinnati Bengals, and spent two months working as a Dasher for DoorDash. On a recent chilly December morning, he got on the phone from his home in Lawrenceburg, Indiana. It's a small town on the Ohio River, population approximately 5,000 and a stone’s throw from Cincinnati, where Chrisman grew up and launched his football career.
Chrisman confesses that he’s “a little sleepy,” because it’s the morning after Monday Night Football, where he appears as a local commentator for the Bengals. Being a commentator is temporary, a placeholder job before he lands on his next team.
Becoming a punter defined Chrisman’s life, and so, too, he says, did becoming a Dasher. It was an experience he dove into this past summer, before football’s preseason. Chrisman had opted to stay in Cincinnati to be near family — he and his wife have a 17-month-old daughter — and was looking for a way to fill some of the time. “I would usually go in the offseason to train with my coach,” he says. “Just a little tougher with a toddler, dragging them along everywhere you go.”
To get in extra workouts, Chrisman signed up to deliver food for DoorDash, figuring he could ride around the city by bike. “Plus, I was looking for a bit of an outlet,” he says. He worked as a Dasher for two months, riding about 20 miles per day. During that time, he began to see the city — a place he knew intimately — through a new lens.
“You can drive past something 100 times, but then when you ride by on a bike, at ground-level, you see things from a completely different perspective,” he says. Chrisman began to notice that some areas of Cincinnati were afflicted by poverty in ways that he had not previously understood. “Seeing that turned my therapeutic DoorDash adventure into kind of a charity, in a way.”
“You can drive past something 100 times, but then when you ride by on a bike, at ground-level, you see things from a completely different perspective."
Chrisman began to use the money he earned from DoorDash to purchase meals from local restaurants and businesses to give out around town to people in need. He personally handed out meals via his bicycle, and, through social media, his efforts gained recognition. The DoorDash experiment, which Chrisman began by filming on his phone, was soon memorialized, too, by a bike camera attached to his helmet. Where at first DoorDash had been a way to pass the time and get fit — and, Chrisman adds, a fun, game-like way to navigate the streets and the app — it soon began to serve a larger purpose.
Chrisman’s videos, which have amassed many thousands of likes, attracted the attention of local news stations. “I was getting food donations from all over town,” he says. “I was able to turn it into something big that I couldn’t do myself.” That “something” has been a charitable effort that flowed throughout the summer, bringing food and connection to the community.
His experience, Chrisman says, also connected him to Cincinnati in a way that he had not necessarily expected. “I would go and hand out the food, and it got to a point where people were recognizing me,” he says. “It turned into this special connection that I had with people.”
These days, Chrisman’s social media following tags along not only for DoorDash adventures, but also for cheeky “day-in-the-life” videos and half-serious windows into the world of the NFL (a recent reel shows Chrisman doing post-game coverage in a smart navy blazer, button-down shirt, and, concealed from the camera’s view, shorts).
Although Chrisman’s short career as a Dasher is on pause, he’s not sure it’s finished. If football takes him to a different city, he would be open, he says, to jumping back on his bike and doing it all over again. “If you want to explore your city, pull up the DoorDash app, and hop on your bike,” he says. “You’re gonna learn it very quickly.”
PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of Drue Chrisman