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On the Sidelines with Jaelen Strong and the Legends of Tomorrow Football Camp

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Jaelen Strong, a receiver for the Houston Texans, hosted and sponsored the fourth annual Legends of Tomorrow football camp last Saturday. The event was held at Drexel University’s Vidas Athletic Complex in Philadelphia, where an all-star lineup of NFL players came out to coach aspiring football players from elementary school to high school.

The NFL players on hand were receivers Strong, DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller, and quarterback Tom Savage of the Texans, as well as Todd Gurley of the Rams and Jihad Ward of the Raiders. Four of the pros were native Philadelphians coming home to give back to their community. At the camp, instead of just playing a few games, it was set up like a training camp with different stations. Each kid was given a L.O.T. t-shirt and they were put into the stations. Strong, who is from Philadelphia, was busy tending to the different activities. When a boy hurt his knee, Strong came up to him and asked what he could do for him. The rest of the players were working at their own stations. In addition, there were youth football coaches from the community involved. At one point they were chanting out, “If I can see it, I can be it!” When asked about the difference between talent and hard work, Strong said, “Perseverance is more important than natural talent because no matter what goes on in life, you gotta pick yourself up.” 

Between the morning session and the afternoon session, there was a break where everyone came onto the field and socialized. The kids were able to get pictures and autographs with the players. 

Savage, who is from Philadelphia and played for the University of Pittsburgh, enjoys giving back. “[I enjoy] seeing their growth, seeing them play, seeing them compete and seeing them stay out of trouble,” he said. Ward, who also grew up in Philadelphia, said, “It feels good to be back in Philly. It’s the city of brotherly love, so it’s good to give back.” Said Fuller, another Philly native: “It’s good to be back and give back to the kids and community.”

Some of the stations involved running with the ball, and some other stations were more conditioning-based. The last thing they did was a competition where one kid would play offense and would have to try to fake out another kid that was playing defense. This allowed the campers to put their skills to the test. At one station, the coaches made it even more fun by saying that the kids had to do touchdown celebrations. 

It was a day of laughter and fun. Hopkins, one of the NFL’s best receivers, got his nickname “Nuk” from a pacifier brand. When he was a baby, he went through so many of them that his mom started calling him the name of the brand “Nuk”. The name stuck. It was a day where NFL stars were having a good time with the kids. It was more like a neighborhood picnic than a celebrity event. 

For Strong, the event was a success. “[It was great] seeing the kids be happy and seeing them run around.”

Photograph courtesy Roc Nation Sports