Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Philly Native & Minnesota Vikings Star, Sharrif Floyd, Hosts Charity Weekend

There is something special about Philadelphia sports. Known for our blue collar attitude, there is no doubt that our city produces special talents in every aspect! A city with the 5th largest population in the U.S., we have made our imprint in the sports world for sure. But for me and many others, as a football first guy, I have always bragged about the talent in our city, yet we have dealt with the stigma that "Philly is a basketball city." Although this has some truth to it, that notion is quickly becoming old folktale. The city has become acknowledged as a "recruiting hotbed" for college football recruiters in recent years. There are many reasons. One person who I feel played a huge role in pioneering this movement was 2013 1st round draft pick and Philly native, Sharrif Floyd.

Now that Floyd is a NFL player, he has continually been a blessing to his hometown. Floyd is often returning home to workout with his trainer, Greg Garrett of Level 40. He's been a familiar face at workouts, camps, or any other events where he can show his support for talent from Philadelphia. Young men in our city need to see that. And it's helping.

Floyd's charity weekend included a benefit for a fallen Philadelphia officer's family. Which was an awesome gesture in itself. Then on July 16th, Sharrif hosted a camp for Youth and HS football players on Temple's campus. The events' counselors included Philly natives who have made it to the NFL. The players included Al-Hajj Shabazz (Pittsburgh Steelers), Deion Barnes (NY Jets), Rasheed Bailey (Jacksonville Jaguars). The camp was awesome! But wait...the MOST impactful moment was before the camp had even started.

The campers were rounded up and seated in the conference room in Temple University's, Edberg-Olson Football Complex. They were typical young men, chatty as can be they were anxious to hit the field and show off their talents. The small talk ended very quickly though. Organizers of the camp created a forum for a potpourri of guests to speak. Speakers included each one of the players named above, a number of other NFLers, a Philly politician, and a few well known entertainers from Philly. They all spoke frankly about the trials and tribulations they had to deal with while chasing their dreams and becoming better men. 

(Ha) Let me tell you...these WERE NOT your average speeches. If you were unclear on what it took to get to the highest level coming from the city where you are counted out before you even start, you definitely had an idea after hearing the talks. Shabazz, a West Chester alum, talked frankly about being counted out because he was from a Division 2 school. How he had to work that much harder to even be taken seriously. He talked to the kids about finding a "why" outside of yourself. Voice raised and screaming with passion, Shabazz shouted, "It ain't going to be easy. You're going to go through things. My grandmother died, I loved her to death. When she was gone I knew I was going to give everything I had. It was for her!" The whole room was silent and you could feel the passion in his talk. After he finished the room cheered as if they were ready to play in a championship game. We were all pumped up!

It would be really hard for anyone to follow Shabazz's talk. So you'd think...well...Rasheed Bailey, who's no stranger to challenges, was up next. With such a difficult and heart-felt act to follow, he knocked it out of the park! He began by re-hashing many of the things that Shabazz had discussed. He talked about being your own man. "It is ok to be different." "You don't have to do what everyone else is doing, a matter of fact you can't!" Bailey played at Division III, Delaware Valley University. They are one of the most successful D3 programs around, but after talking to his coaches about his dreams of playing in the NFL, he knew he had to be different! These guys' words went right to my soul. I know this had to hit home with the athletes who are exactly where the NFL guys once were...Dreamers. Thank you to Sharrif Floyd and Level 40 training for the opportunity to coach QBs and be a part of this special moment!

My writing can't do these talks justice. Fortunately I was able to get some of Rasheed's speech on video. Click the link to check it out the video!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Jaelen Strong, of the Houston Texans, Hosts Football Camp for Hometown Philly Kids

It's been a while since adding content to my blog, so I hope to share some of the things I've learned. First of all, I have truly been blessed to be a part such exciting coaching opportunities across the country up to this point in 2016. For my first post back, I would like to point out some of my eye opening moments while coaching/training this off season...particularly off the field. I hope to add a couple more soon.
Jaelen welcoming campers 
  Eye Opening Moment #1: Fortunately, Jaelen had asked me to be the Quarterback coach for a camp he was hosting. If you are unfamiliar, Jaelen is a West Catholic and ASU alum. He is currently a WR for the Houston Texans. The 3rd annual SNPGD: Legends of Tomorrow Camp. His camp was very well run and had some major star power. The other counselors included NFL players like Deandre Hopkins, Cecil Shorts, Kevin Johnson(Houston Texans), Todd Gurley(LA Rams), Damarious Randall(Green Bay), and Philly natives Will Parks(Denver Broncos), Jihad Ward(Oakland Raiders), Rasheed Bailey(Jacksonville Jaguars). Now, the fact that all of these NFL guys were present was pretty cool. But that isn't even what was most impressive. Usually, when you have camps like this(I won't name them), the NFL players show up for a photo, shake a hand or two, and snag some publicity. This was not the case AT ALL. These guys totally invested into the 100+ youth and High School players who attended the camp in split sessions. It was stifling hot, had to be close to a 100 degrees on the turf in the center of West Philly. That did not stop any of the NFL player from coaching though. Cecil Shorts grabbed a kid to the side for some 1 on 1 time to correct some flaws. Deandre Hopkins (arguably the best WR in the League) would stop his group drills in order to demonstrate personal techniques that he uses. It was awesome. They weren't shying away from the moment. They all went into detail when correcting players and even posed for photos at fans' request throughout the longevity of the event. Strong, Ward, Parks, Bailey were all awesome too. Just their mere presence was an example for the kids of Philadelphia. They are walking examples of hard work and determination...that dreams can be achieved no matter what odds were against you. Kudos to these fine gentlemen. Glad they are bright spots/representative of the potential in the young dreamers of our city. #PhillyStrong #AgainstTheOdds

  Takeways from this moment: Almost a dozen NFL players came out to support Jaelen's cause. The camp was an awesome experience for hundreds of inner-city kids, some of whom dream of making it to the NFL. They were able to rub elbows with their idols and saw first hand what it is like to give back to the community. The key here is that the kids saw their visions and dreams in real life form through the NFL players. NFL players that had come from the same community that they were from. NFL players who had a dream and put in the work in school and on the field. They were able to see that there is unlimited possibility that lies ahead of them. Above all else, the players that gave back gave hope to the kids of our community. I think it is safe to say that this camp was a success.
Jihard Ward
Deandre Hopkins and Coach Abe

Rasheed Bailey, Coach Abe, Will Parks, Jihad Ward

Coach Abe and Jaelen Strong