Maclin learns from kids at his football camp
Jeremy Maclin on his kids camp and the Eagles
Jeremy Maclin talks about starting his own football camp and compares his health this year to last year's mysterious illness. 6/25/12
WEST DEPTFORD, N.J. – A few weeks ago at an Eagles Youth Partnership event to rebuild a playground, Jeremy Maclin snuck away from the crowd.
While other Eagles were painting a mural and signing autographs, Maclin was one of the few who found a grassy patch at the West Philadelphia school and held a mini football clinic.
Now, he’s doing the real thing.
On Monday, the inaugural Jeremy Maclin Football Camp kicked off in the South Jersey suburbs. The three-day camp is for kids ages 7-16 and all proceeds go to the Jeremy Maclin Foundation, a non-profit started by Maclin to assist families forced into alternative living situations. The camp also helps fund youth football organizations and back-to-school programs. Maclin will also run a camp near his hometown of St. Louis in July.
“I want to give kids the opportunity I never really had,” Maclin said. “To come out here and experience the opportunity to learn from some of the NFL’s best and from guys who have already done it and to let them know if they keep their mind to it, you can do it if you work hard.”
On Tuesday, more of Maclin’s Eagles teammates – LeSean McCoy, Jason Avant, Jaiquawn Jarrett and Jamar Chaney – are expected to show up. But on Monday, plenty of NFL players were on the field of the RiverWinds Community Center, including Lions WR Marcus Harris, Jaguars DB Kevin Rutland, Falcons LB Sean Weatherspoon and Rams WR Danario Alexander.
Alexander, Weatherspoon and Rutland were teammates of Maclin’s at Missouri. He actually first decided he wanted to hold a camp while he was in college.
“Now I’m in the position to do that,” Maclin said. “It’s a privilege.”
Rico Patterson was one of the 150-plus kids on the field Monday. The 12-year-old Willingboro, N.J. resident was just hoping to learn as much as he can during the three-day camp.
“It’s a great experience,” Patterson said. “It’s great. They’re helping a lot. It should make me better as a player.”
Patterson said it was even really cool to meet Maclin, which might come as a surprise to some. “I’m a Giants fan,” he said with a sheepish smile.
Patterson had a smile on his face throughout the early morning. That was pretty common on Monday as the kids did some warmup stretches before breaking into several stations to work more closely with the NFL players.
Those smiles were pretty important to Maclin. In fact, that – not the football – is the most important aspect of Maclin’s camp.
“It brings excitement,” Maclin said. “We learn as much from them as they do from us. That’s what this is all about.”
What can NFL players learn from little kids?
“Never forget to have fun,” Maclin continued. “These kids never forget to have fun. They want to get better but these kids are out here to have fun. That’s important to never forget.”
Jordan Perry, 13, from Riverside, N.J., was having a blast on Monday morning, too. He was trying to recover from breaking his hand and was excited he was finally able to play again. He just won a championship in his Pop Warner league.
And then there was Tracy Felder, a 12-year-old from Sicklerville, N.J. He said he’s a huge Eagles fan and it was really fun to meet Maclin.
“This is what I live for,” said Maclin, who will enter his fourth season in the NFL in 2012. “This is the reason I started playing football initially in the first place. It’s awesome.”
Maclin also said as long as he’s an Eagle, he’ll continue to hold the camp each year.
That was music to Felder’s ears.
“I hope so,” he said. “This is fun.”E-mail Dave Zangaro at email@example.com