PORT ARTHUR —
Kids were smiling Friday morning, no matter how hot Port Arthur’s temperatures were at 10 a.m.
The grins were from the youngsters being put through drills by Kansas City running back and former Port Arthur Memorial Titan Jamaal Charles. Friday was the first of two days Charles hosts his fifth annual Jamaal Charles “Family Matters” Foundation football camp.
“The turnout just keeps getting better and better,” Charles said. “I hope I am able to keep putting this together even after I retire. I know all the kids in Port Arthur look up to me, so it is big for them. Who wouldn’t be excited to come out and go through drills with NFL players and get a free shirt and free food?”
Charles was joined Friday by several friends and teammates including former Titan and current Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Danny Gorrer and former West Orange-Stark Mustang and Lamar Cardinal quarterback Andre Bevil.
“I make sure these kids and parents don’t have to pay for anything,” Charles said. “It is our job to give back to the community because these kids are our future. I am not solely worried about the kids learning anything. My maini goal for these kids is for them to have fun.
“It is all about myself and these other guys giving the kids high fives and patting them on the back. They get to see us on TV on Sundays so it is special to get to be around these kids for two days and know they are enjoying themselves.”
There was work to be done though.
The camp focuses on several different football situations.
Bevil ran one drill set up for quarterbacks. He had players run around cones, highstep over blocking dummies on the ground. If that was not enough, the players then had to remember to bring the ball from their chest to their ear before making the pass.
Titans junior running back Vernon Chaisson was out at the camp Friday and was going through drills just like he was in two-a-days at Memorial.
“It feels great to get out here and get in some work,” Chaisson said. “We all really appreciate Jamaal for giving back to his community. It is a cool feeling seeing him and these other guys we watch on Sundays.”
Charles is coming off yet another banner season for the Chiefs. His elite play, backed by a contract that’s not in the top 10 among running backs, has led many to call Charles one of the NFL’s biggest bargins. He will only cost the Chiefs $2,650,000 in base salary, with a $1,333,333 signing bonus and $1,000,000 roster bonus.
By comparision, Philadelphia’s LeSean McCoy will receive a base salary of $7.6 million in 2014. Other backs making more than twice as much as Charles include Chicago’s Matt Forte ($5.9 million) and Houston’s Arian Foster $5.7 million. Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson is the highest paid back at $11.75 million.
Charles rushed for 1,287 yards in 2013, third best in the NFL. His 12 rushing touchdowns were tied for the league lead with Marshawn Lynch. Charles also brought in 70 receptions for 693 yards and seven scores. His 19 total touchdowns were tops in the NFL.
After six NFL seasons, his 5.79 yards per carry average ranks No. 1 on the all-time running backs list ahead of Jim Brown. He’s been selected to three Pro Bowls and made the NFL’s all-pro team twice.
Charles was not worried about money or yards Friday. He was only concerned with making sure the kids at the camp were having a good time.
The camp picks back up from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. today at Memorial High School with several more NFL players due to be on hand.
Here is a list of the top 15 highest paid NFL running backs heading into the 2014 season.
Player Team 2014 Base Salary 2013 Rushing Yards
Adrian Peterson Minnesota $11,750,000 1,266
LeSean McCoy Philadelphia $7,650,000 1,607
Matt Forte Chicago $5,950,000 1,339
Arian Foster Houston $5,750,000 542
Marshawn Lynch Seattle $5,000,000 1,257
Ray Rice Baltimore $4,000,000 660
Reggie Bush Detroit $3,500,000 1,006
C.J. Spiller Buffalo $3,498,750 933
Frank Gore San Francisco $3,300,000 1,128
Steven Jackson Atlanta $3,000,000 543
Jamaal Charles Kansas City $2,650,000 1,287
Fred Jackson Buffalo $2,450,000 890
BenJarvus Green-Ellis Cincinnati $2,300,000 756
Shonn Greene Tennessee $2,300,000 295
Trent Richardson Indianapolis $2,252,708 563