PORT ARTHUR — One by one, the kids ran through the drill.
Over the blocking dummies lying on the ground.
Under the hurdles.
Around the cones.
Waiting for them, just behind those hurdles was a familiar face who’s giving back to his home town.
“I saw in their faces that they’re glad to be here, that they’re having a good time,” Kansas City running back and former Texas Longhorn and Port Arthur Memorial Titan Jamaal Charles said at his fourth annual Jamaal Charles “Family Matters” Foundation football camp.
“I’m glad I’m giving back to the community. It’s an amazing thing that I can give out free shirts, free short, a free bag and free food without charging anyone. Most camps charge kids, but we’re not charging one person here to join this camp.”
The two-day camp, which is free to all participants, is a hit with kids of all ages. Some of Charles’ NFL friends joined him, including Cincinnati’s Anthony Collins, Tampa Bay’s Danny Gorrer and more. For Charles, part of the fun in the camp is the 175 participants getting to interact with an NFL player without his helmet on.
“At that age, most guys see me with a helmet on on TV,” Charles said. “But, to recognize me with my helmet off, that’s pretty cool. Going out there and playing with them, it means the world not just to me but to every player out here for this event. They get to learn not just from a coach, or their mama, but someone who made it in the NFL who they can look up to.”
Charles has fun with the smaller kids, chasing them around this drill and talking to them as they grab a drink of water. He also has time to offer tips on technique to the older boys as they go through drills.