It was an afternoon for the kids on March 29th at the Marco Island Charter Middle School field. Marco Island’s YMCA partnered with the National Football League’s Players’ Association to put on a clinic for kids between 6 and 14 years old.
The venue was fitting since the clinic was held in the shadow of a new goalpost installed earlier in the day thanks to a donation by Mike Vanderjagt, former all-pro kicker for the Indianapolis Colts. Mr. Vanderjagt, now a Marco Island resident and owner of Vandy’s 5 BrothersPizza on Elkcam Circle, has also devoted a considerable amount of time and attention to coaching young football players.
Seven retired NFL players ran the clinic with assistance from some students from high schools, including Lely High. Kids did everything from recovering fumbles to throwing passes to running pass patterns and dodging obstacles. The 135 or so youngsters enjoyed tutoring from the “big guys” as they rotated through the activities. The only thing matching the enthusiasm of the kids was the joy of the former pros. They cheered on the young onesas they demonstrated various basic football techniques.
Muneer Moore, a former wide receiver with the Denver Broncos said that, “I remember the things I did as a kid and the great coaching I got. I’m delighted to come back and do things for the kids. I hope they’ll keep the memory just as I have. I was a poor kid who was fortunate in going to the University of Richmond and then going to the NFL. Maybe something like that will happen to some of these kids.” Then he turned back totell the kids over and over again, “Swing those arms when you run!”
Joining Mr. Muneer were Bob Lurtsema of the Minnesota Vikings, Eric McMillan of the New York Jets, Bob Rimpf and Amon Arnold of the Baltimore Ravens, Frank Rice of the Green Bay Packers and several other teams and Mike Jennings of the New York Giants.
All the players are non-compensated volunteers. Their reward, as they all agreed, is the happiness of the youngsters. At the end of the drills all the kids assembled and were given gifts provided by the National Football League Youth Football Fund.