Namath/Dockery Football Camp in its 35th Year!
The 2006 Joe Namath/John Dockery Football Camp, like every other year, turned out to be star struck showcase once again, now in its 35 th year running.
Sixth-year veteran wide receiver Justin McCareins made the trip to Nichols College in Dudley, MA on Tuesday; while Wednesday marked the introduction of the Jets first selection in this year's draft, tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson.
Upon arrival, Ferguson insisted on speaking with youngest group first, followed by a not-so-typical Q&A session. The 22-year old from Freeport, NY was peppered with a plethora of diverse questions, including detailed college experiences, bank statements, favorite athletes and even his current means of transportation. With all jokes aside, Ferguson offered some keen words of wisdom for the 8-11 year-olds, who are just beginning their football careers.
"God has given each and everyone of us something special. You need to figure out what that is and take advantage of it and work with it. Take what God has given you and don't ever look back," said Ferguson. "I was blessed with the longest arms I have ever seen; just look, I can scratch my knees standing straight up."
Former Jets defensive end Joe " Mad Mountain" Jackson was also in attendance, offering tremendous words of praise to the wide-eyed audience.
"When I look out at this crowd, I see the next great players of this game," announced Jackson. "I see such tremendous potential. Some of you are wearing the jerseys of some of the great players to play in the NFL, but I'll tell you what, someday those names and numbers will be yours."
After a lunch break and hundreds of autographs, photos and handshakes, it was evident that Ferguson, just a big kid at heart, was itching to get back to socializing with the young players. Next on his agenda was a rendezvous with the thriving young stars ages 12 and 13 years-old. This group comprised of young, pre-high school players, looking to get the extra edge with just a couple of years short of entering the world of freshman, J.V., and Varsity status. Before these athletes experience their first taste of high school football, Ferguson wanted to make something clear in regards to eligibility and passion.
"There's no point in playing this game if you're not willing to put in the time," said the UVA graduate. "You need to not only go to high school and graduate, you need to give it your best and get good grades. For example, if you have an assignment due the next morning, don't put it off, get it done. Create good work habits for yourself and you will notice them spilling over into your football habits too."
Having such a successful football resume thus far in his life, many of the kids figured that he had been playing the sport since he could walk, which is far from the truth. Although it's incredibly difficult to imagine, Ferguson first strapped on pads just months shy of his first day of high school. Besides a health condition, Ferguson's reason for not playing was simply because he was a terrible athlete at nearly everything he tried.
"I tried playing other sports when I was younger, but it was ugly; real ugly!" he said to the hysterical audience. "People always thought I would be a good basketball player just because I was tall but I was just plain awful. I didn't even get to take up football until the eighth grade because I had a heart condition."
As the day came to a close, Ferguson was able to watch the oldest group, the 14-18 year olds strap on the pads and show off their skills. This group had such talent and size and according to Ferguson, the future of football is looking very bright - that is, as long as those playing understand what it truly takes to make it to the next level.
"Take advantage of your time; you may think that you have all the free time in the world, especially now, during the summer," he said to the group of High Schoolers. "For me, summer didn't mean vacation, it meant off-season training; going to the weight room, enhancing my game. If you don't take advantage of the available time, you will fall behind because there is always someone out there that is working hard, and you need to make sure that that person is you. The hours I put in on the field, in the classroom, in the weight room, they not only prepared me every weekend, it gave me the confidence to succeed."
With their High School season lurking just around the corner for these young men, Ferguson added one more important task that he hopes every player will follow and benefit from.
"Find the player on your team who works the hardest and stick with him. No matter how good he is, stick to him and you will improve, believe me. There were guys I practiced against at Virginia who were some of the toughest players I had ever faced and will ever face just because of their work ethic alone. It's these players that I respect the most, and owe most of my success to."
Hall of Fame quarterback and beloved Jets star Joe Namath was on hand to meet the 2006 first round selection. Ferguson, who grew up a huge Jets fan, referred to the legend as "Mr. Namath" and even asked for an autograph.
Namath sounded very eager about the upcoming Jets season, saying, "I'm excited about the new look, with the players and the coaching staff, too. I think it's great what the Jets are doing and it's going to be exciting to watch. Drafting Nick Mangold and D'Brickashaw, is a great way to build."