BRASHER FALLS - Eddie L. Kidd says Sept. 8 cant roll around fast enough.
Mr. Kidd, who played for the Oakland Raiders, is one of three former NFL players who are participating in the Hometown Heroes Muskie Challenge and Riverfest celebration in Brasher.
I cannot wait. The thing is, the fact that iss involved with the Wounded Warriors and children. Thats a thrill for me, he said during a telephone interview Thursday from California.
Mr. Kidd, who is a professional tournament bass angler and Department of Defense civilian, will be joined by Monte Spencer , who played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Sam Kennedy, who was a member of the San Francisco 49ers.
I do a wounded veterans program here in California, he said, explaining that if soldiers contact him through his website, by phone or email hes willing to take them out in a boat for a fishing adventure during a tournament.
I let them experience how it feels to compete in a competitive tournament, Mr. Kidd said.
Fishing has been in his blood since an early age. He played baseball, football and basketball with school teams in Cincinnati, Ohio, but the weekends were reserved for fishing with his father. He was introduced to bass at the age of 12 by Robert Brown, a family friend who would take Mr. Kidd to different places throughout the U.S. to fish for bass.
Mr. Kidd gained a full scholarship to attend college and play football at Miami University in Ohio, but opted to go another route in his life.
I left a four-year scholarship to join the military (as a special operations specialist with the U.S. Army Special Forces). I wound up getting stationed in Germany. I got off active duty (retiring in 1997 with 20 years of service) and stayed in Germany as a reservist, he said.
While working as a Department of Defense civilian in Germany, Mr. Kidd got to take part in another love he had in his life - football.
I was playing semi-pro football. It just happened that I got scouted during a game I was playing with a semi-pro German team, he said. The next thing I know, I was being brought up to try out for what was supposed to be the World League of America.
That eventually took his path to the Oakland Raiders - then the Los Angeles Raiders - after seven years of playing football with teams in Europe.
At the end of 91, I was traded over in a program called Operation Discovery. They discovered the American Football League in Europe and traded us out to NFL teams, Mr. Kidd said.
In his case, he ended up with the Raiders.
It shocked me, he said.
He left the sport in 1993 because of injuries he suffered in the military.
I went away from the football because of my knees. I had really bad knees at the time they drafted me. I was able to last two-and-a-half years. When they first drafted me I went in 91. Then I got called back up to the military to go to the Gulf War. My playing time in 91, I think I got a couple of plays in. After that it was basically Kuwait and Iraq, Mr. Kidd said.
Fishing has been his life since then, along with his Department of Defense job as a soldier and family assistant program manager at the Fresno (California) Recruiting Battalion.
He started tournament fishing as a co-angler in 2002 with NorCal Bass Federation. He started fishing the FLW Western Series in 2005 and, in 2007, Mr. Kidd fished the Bassmasters Elite Series as a co-angler, learning from such pros as Alton Jones, Mark Menendez, Matt Reed and other elite anglers.
But, he said, hes never caught some of the fish that inhabit the Northern New York waters.
Im just so excited just knowing there are small mouth and muskie. Ive never caught a muskie in my life, he said.
Mr. Kidd said he heard about the Hometown Heroes Muskie Challenge through a person associated with the Fishing Behind The Lines program on WPBS and the Wounded Warriors Outdoor Adventure organization.
I wound up meeting Bob (FISHCAP Advisory Board member Robert Giordano) and Don (FISHCAP Coordinator Donald R. Meissner), he said.
Mr. Kidd said hes looking forward to meeting the Fort Drum soldiers while in Brasher.
The fact that its involving the Wounded Warriors, I feel blessed that I made it back with minimal injuries. Some of the guys and girls are not as fortunate as I am. I told someone on my Facebook page, this is not about me. Its about the guys and girls that went out and lost limbs and suffered injuries that are a lot more than I have, he said. I look forward to putting my arms around them and giving them a hand shake for their service.