Let me start by saying this: God bless Harrison Smith of the Minnesota Vikings and Lee Smith of the Oakland Raiders. And Chris White of the New England Patriots and Garrett Reynolds of the St. Louis Rams.
The two Smiths recently ran a football camp on the grounds of Knoxville Catholic High School. Boys from kindergarten through the 8th grade with dreams of the gridiron came and spent three days - in some pretty damn hot weather - running, catching, throwing, jumping, all with the help of the four NFL players mentioned, as well as players from the University of Tennessee, and players and staff from Knoxville Catholic High School. I was there to do pictures with the players for the kids, and grabbed these candid shots as well.
And check this out - Smith and Smith paid for it.
That's right, it was free for the kids. I understand that this is part of the NFL's effort to bring philanthropy to its ranks and I applaud them for this. I watched as these players cheerfully worked with the kids and when it came time for autographs, no one was slighted - time was made for each boy. It was not easy work. Talking to Garrett, he laughed at how much effort it took to keep kindergartners and 1st graders corralled and on-point. It was a laugh watching a pick up game of shirts vs. skins with Harrison and Lee with boys of 4th and 5th grade age - fun for the guys, but both play and serious practice for the boys.
I hope the men who gave their time for this camp realize they gave the boys much more than tips on how to catch a ball or the techniques of the forward pass. They gave them a lesson in that it take hard work to reach your goals, that there are real men out there who are willing to help you, and that it is right and proper to give back. If the kids left with anything, I hope it was a sense of their are people worth emulating in life - like these players.
It's almost football time in Tennessee and I am getting excited!