DISTRICT HEIGHTS, MD – San Francisco 49ers’ linebacker Navorro Bowman hosted his first annual football camp Saturday. Bowman, arguably one of the National Football League’s best inside linebackers, was born in District Heights and attended Suitland High School nearby in Forestville, Maryland. Returning to where it all started was something Bowman always wanted to do.
“It was hard, it was a struggle,” said Bowman. “It’s a time period where the kids around here – they don’t go outside anymore, they don’t play games with other kids. They’re stuck in the house playing video games. For them to come out here, run around and just meet NFL players and just have a good time it’s just a great thing for us.”
The two time all-pro (2011, 2012) and 2012 Pro Bowler says he wanted to give back and show kids that it’s possible. “For someone who comes from the area they’re being brought up in and made it to the NFL — that’s a lot of kids dreams out here,” Bowman said. “That’s what we do out here — we play basketball, we play football – we play all types of sports. And when we start playing them, we really want to make it to the top level. For me to come back and give back like this, and put smiles on their faces and to just show them we’re real people. It’s not special individuals that get chosen — you have to put the work in.”
The camp consisted of kids from the ages 5-14. They really seemed to enjoy themselves and received top level coaching from some of the NFL’s elite. Bowman had help from a few of his teammates — TE Vernon Davis, RB Anthony Dixon and his ILB counterpart Patrick Willis. Joining the 49er players was Baltimore Ravens’ receiver Torrey Smith who is fresh off a Super Bowl Championship over the aforementioned 49er players. But it was all fun and games as the players united as one team to help make Bowman’s first annual football camp a success.
Patrick Willis, who is essentially the only “other” player in the argument of league’s best inside linebacker, was out helping his teammate and good friend Navorro Bowman. “It’s just truly a blessing and an honor to come out to his community to help him and just give back,” said Willis. “What he’s doing is tremendous and I know these kids – when they look back someday, will be very appreciative of it.”
Willis found out firsthand how attentive and appreciative the kids where. During a group session, one of the kids (who I call “Little CJ2k” aka a young Chris Johnson) had a rare opportunity to juke one of the league’s most decorated linebackers out his shoes! This, after, Patrick Willis shared some insight on one of the more important drills for linebackers. “One of the biggest drills for a linebacker is shuffling,” said Willis. “You got to stay low. Shoulders over knees.” Well, little CJ2k learned the secret and used it to his advantage!
Overall, it was a successful event and one Bowman plans to continue annually. The children, who all had an opportunity to run numerous drills on District Heights Boys & Girls club football field, couldn’t have learned from a better group of professional football players. Bowman ended the day with a spirited football chant:
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