Joplin & Camp Time … Morning Cup O’Chiefs

Before getting started we must tip our cap to the 135 or so folks in the Kansas City Chiefs organization that spent Thursday in Joplin helping that tornado ravaged city, contributing their muscles, their money and their time.

Some 10 players joined front office staff, coaches and others on the trip, including first-round draft choice Jonathan Baldwin (right). He was joined by several other draft choices and veterans like Matt Cassel and Andy Studebaker. GM Scott Pioli made the trip as well, as did several members of the coaching staff, including offensive coordinator Bill Muir.

Many of the people on the four buses that traveled to Joplin have had their paychecks cut by ownership due to the lockout. They easily could have withheld their commitment to anything scheduled by the club. But showing their class, the little guys in the building went to Joplin and provided a great example of love thy neighbor. What a wonderful effort by the folks at the Chiefs.

Now on to the subject of camping . . .

Around the country it’s camping time for NFL players. I speak not of training camp, which hopefully will go off as scheduled at the end of July. And, I am not talking about players pitching tents in the woods and enjoying the great outdoors.

This camping involves afternoons on green fields around the country, providing guidance, expertise and encouragement for young football players from five to 20 years old.

Generally, this is the time of year when players have about a month off before heading to training camp. That makes it the time when a lot of players schedule their own camps, or agree to participate in camps run by other players, schools and charities. This week there was controversy in the camping world when Vikings RB Adrian Peterson was a no-show at the Adrian Peterson Football Camp in Norman. Officials for the camp announced Peterson would not attend and said he decided to take part in an NFL Network taping of a show featuring the 100 top players in the league. But it turned out the trip for a TV filming had nothing to do with Peterson’s absence. First, the taping is scheduled for July 3rd. Second, he wasn’t going to be there from the start.

“I want to apologize to all the fans about the confusion regarding the camp in Norman,” Peterson said in a statement that was given to the media by his agent. “I hosted camps in Palestine and Tyler, Texas last week that went great. Due to (a) misunderstanding of my schedule, I was never able to host this year’s Norman camp on the scheduled dates but look forward to being back in 2012.”

The camp organizer was a company called ProCamps World Wide and they lined up former Oklahoma players Mark Clayton, DeMarco Murray and Jason White to host the two-day affair. Young football players between the ages of seven and 14 attended the camp, paying $199 for two days. The organizers said this week that anyone who wanted their money back because Peterson was absent would receive a refund.

In the last two months, ProCamps has run or will run two dozen camps for figures associated with the NFL. Generally, the cost is $199 for the two-day affairs. But other camps are free, like those of NFL head coaches Marvin Lewis and Mike Tomlin, along with players like Matt Ryan and Wes Welker.

So why does an NFL player bother with the whole camp idea? Some are altruistically motivated, generally because of a camp experience from their childhood that they want to give back to today’s young players. Some view the camps as another way to stay in shape and get together with teammates, both current and former. For others the idea is to make money.

At the rate of $199 per camp, a player that can draw say 250 youngsters to his camp, that’s a gross of just short of $50,000. Say 50 percent goes to expenses. That leaves a player with $25,000 for what would amount to eight hours of work over two days, or more than $3,000 an hour.

This year the owners’ lockout of the players has put a crimp in some camps where players used team facilities. It has also led to the cancellation of several camps that were held by teams, including one by the Chiefs that drew a letter to the editor of the Kansas City Star.

“For the last three years the National Sports Center for the Disabled has done a “mini-camp” with the Kansas City Chiefs. My two sons have enjoyed these events — especially being around the players,” wrote Brad Hansen of Overland Park.

“It’s great watching these big, tough guys showing the patience and caring needed to teach kids with disabilities the basic football skills such as carrying a ball, passing and running patterns. Only this year, the event was canceled because of the lockout. Team owners, please drop the lockout and start the season. Players do many community and service events such as this, and many people are being hurt.”

While there haven’t been any camps at the Truman Sports Complex, Chiefs players across the country are taking part in football camps of all shapes and sizes.

In Myerstown, Pennsylvania, FB Mike Cox (right) took part in the Elco Youth Football Camp.

“I just remember back to when I was that age,” Cox told the Lebanon Daily News. “We played football when we were younger than this, and I just remember what it felt like having a pro guy or a college guy just coming to talk to you. It kind of makes your day and gives you something to shoot for. Hopefully we can give some of that back.”

Cox and his younger brother Luke, a former Georgia Tech fullback who is waiting for an NFL chance as an undrafted free agent, not only showed the campers tips on playing the game, but also talked to them about what the game can bring them. And, what it can take away.

“I’ve had three shoulder surgeries,” Cox said. “My youngest brother, Matt, is having another one this week on a wrist. This is gonna take its toll, but I wouldn’t rather be doing anything else.”

Down in Mississippi they were holding a camp at Clarksdale High School that included alumni that are currently in the NFL – Denver LB Mario Haggan, Arizona CB Trumaine McBride and Chiefs G Darryl Harris.

Football players from kindergarten through 12th grade took part in one of the two days of the camp.

“Without a doubt I am coming back next year,” Harris told the Clarksdale Press Register newspaper. “The community is coming together more and more. We’ve just got to get more kids out here. The coaches are doing a good job trying to help prepare kids for that next big step in their lives where there’s high school or junior high. The parents are doing a good job as well. Everything is going pretty good.”

Whether it’s for money, attention or giving back, the chance for young people to meet and hear from NFL players is huge. It’s the type of connection that has helped make the league America’s past-time.

4 Responses to “Joplin & Camp Time … Morning Cup O’Chiefs”

  • June 24, 2011  - bhive01 says:

    The Peterson thing just makes him look like a jerk and a dumbass.

    I think the lockout makes the players decisions very difficult, but I’m glad to see many of them sticking to being good citizens and not patsies to the Union. I just wish we could get this all sorted out and get on with our own camp. I like the drive we’ve seen so far from the players to organize themselves a bit, but this is no substitute for real camps with all the coaches. Especially for the rookies.

    I suppose one can take solace in the fact that all teams are dealing with this issue, but I think this situation favors teams with more veterans that have played together longer. We’re young in most areas and we have a tough schedule ahead of us… We need all the practice we can get at this point.

  • June 24, 2011  - leo says:

    Bob, the Joplin trip speaks volumes about the Chiefs staff, players and families. What a great gesture to those in need. Sadly is also speaks volumes of the owner. As for Adrian , what a schmuck. Kudos to all the players that give back.

  • June 24, 2011  - arron coots says:

    i wish to thank all of the chiefs organization not only did there help of cleaning up help but their physical appeareance help me and my family i am damn proud of joplin and also damn proud of the chiefs , i have been a fan since 1985 and to see someone like matt cassel and scott pioli come down here and be a friend and neighbor goes a long way god bless them

  • June 26, 2011  - T.R.E. says:

    Just seen Tyson Jackson out in Atlanta and shook hands, told him they making me proud to be a chiefs fan again. Cool guy

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