By Monte Lazarus
You had to be there! On the afternoon of March 25, a dozen retired National Football League players and some former coaches treated 149 kids aged 6-14 to introductory football drills. The event was held on the grounds of the Marco Island Charter Middle School thanks to the cooperation of Principal George Abounader. By far the highlight of the afternoon was the way the Gentle Giants interacted with the wide-eyed kids. After watching smash-mouth pro football in person and on tv for many years, it’s a revelation to witness the decency and consideration those tough players have for little kids – both boys and girls.
The drills included relay races, pass-catching and tumbling, some quarterbacking and a bit of obstacle running. The kidsobviously had a wonderful time, and in-between drills kept busy collecting autographs from the obliging players. Everything was provided for the kids, including water and Gatorade to keep them hydrated in the heat.
One of the players, former New Orleans Saint Anthony Hargrove, dazzled the kids (and adults) by proudly displaying his Super Bowl ring. It was about as big as a few of the kids. There were players from around the league, including the Saints, Vikings, Colts, Giants, Redskins, Cowboys, Lions, Steelers, Jets, Chiefs, Oilers, Falcons, Broncos, Eagles, Bills and Browns. Mike Vanderjaght, former Colts place kicker and now Marco Islander, brought his son.
The event was arranged by the Marco Island Y in cooperation with the NFL Players’ Association, and was coordinated with outstanding cooperation from the Marco Island Marriott Resort, site of the players’ meeting.