During the extended break between the offseason training program and training camp, players organize events that's geared towards helping families in need, youth football, and anything else that helps their respective communities. Carlos Dunlap spoke to kids about a healthy diet and fitness then held the second annual Carlos Dunlap football camp last month with teammates Michael Johnson and Richard Quinn, along with NFL starts Maurkice and Mike Pouncey, Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons, and 49ers running back Frank Gore.
Adam Jones spoke to over 200 kids at the Cathedral City Football camp in southern California this weekend.
"The only thing I can talk about are true life experiences," Jones said. "I’m going to be honest with them and whatever questions they ask me, I’ll answer. Be accountable and responsible for all your actions. School is cool, guns are not. Just keep working hard, enjoy your childhood."
Brandon Ghee participated in Aaron Curry's Faith and Football Classic, putting young players between the ages of 14 and 18 through various football drills. Curry also held Bible study Friday evening with a crowd that impressed Curry.
Dre Kirkpatrick returned to his hometown in Gadsden City for weekend event with 21 Kids, a foundation whose goals are "to improve public health, promote educational opportunities and enhance community development efforts. It also wants to create and sustain a healthy environment for the mental health community and assist youth in improving their academic and athletic abilities."
“I always wanted to give back because that's what my dad always preached to me,” he said. “Just giving back and not having your hands closed tight.”
“I said if I ever make it, I want to give back to the kids,” said Kirkpatrick, who now plays for the Cincinnati Bengals in the NFL. “The foundation's purpose is giving kids another outlook on life. Letting them know school is cool. Getting an education is (the thing to do).”
Wallace Gilberry held a basketball game Saturday night to benefit the Baldwin County Sheriff's Boys Ranch in Summerdale, which provides a "residential haven for needy, neglected and/or abused school-age boys."
"Being an NFL player is just a job," Gilberry said. "This is home. When I come home, I try to give back as much as I can. Back in the day, my heart used to be bigger in my wallet. Now, they're about the same size. As long as everybody is having a good time and having fun, that's all that matters to me.
"It was an opportunity to raise some money, and it was going to a great cause, because those boys definitely can use all the help they can get. If I can do anything as an olive branch to help them grow, I'm all for it."
Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch and his cousin, Bengals quarterback Josh Johnson, conducted a football camp in their old stomping grounds at Oakland Tech High. The event was overseen by Lynch's Fam 1st Family Foundation.
Johnson emphasized to the campers that opportunities exist outside of Oakland’s boarders, pointing to himself and Lynch as two people who found a way out.
“It’s perspective – that’s the big word I try to emphasize,” Johnson said. “For us, we were the same way. So we know what they’re going through."
There are several players conducting or participating during events to give back to their communities and a number of them are choosing not to publicize their respective activities. The Bengals will return to Cincinnati on July 25 to kick off the team's pep rally before the team's first training camp practice on July 26.