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Ex-NFL pros cheer on kids at competition

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BRASHER FALLS - Over 40 children were able to play flag football with three former NFL pros came at the first punt pass and kick event at Brasher Fall’s Tri-Town arena.

The event was part of the first Hometown Heroes Muskie Challenge and Riverfest, which honored Fort Drum’s soldiers.

The day began with a fishing competition for wounded soldiers, which lasted until 3 p.m..

Family activities like a bounce house, barbecue, poker run and wine tasting ran throughout the event. At 6 p.m., kids of all ages gathered for the punt pass and kick competition.

Three former NFL players - Oakland Raider Eddie Kidd, Tampa Bay Buccaneer linebacker Monte Spencer and San Francisco 49er linebacker Samuel Kennedy cheered on the kids who showed off their football skills at the event.

“I haven’t met any players, so it’s exciting,” said Michael J. Reed, 11.

All three of the former NFL pros are avid fisherman who got involved with the event through FISHCAP and Wounded Warriors Outdoor Adventures.

“They wanted to support the wounded warriors, so they came up here on their own,” said Robert J. Giordano, director of Wounded Warriors Outdoor Adventures.

Samuel Kennedy was part of the 49er’s Super Bowl winning 1988 team, an accomplishment he says he sometimes still can’t believe.

“I’m here playing with some kids, and they don’t know I’m just a goofy old guy,” he said.

The children were split up into four age groups, with the top performers in the punt pass and kick competition winning jerseys for either the 49er’s or the Raiders. After the competition, all of the kids were able to play flag football with the pros.

Jayden Ashley, 8, Brasher, plays as a wide receiver and a tailback for the Tri-Town football team.

“I want to play flag football with the professional people,” he said.

If the competition returns, it will be even bigger and better, said John A. Ward, chairman of the Hometown Heroes Muskie Challenge.

“If we do it again next year, we’ll have more players and a lot more going on,” he said.

For the pros, events like this are a way to give back and have fun.

“You get a chance to get away from it all and get back to your roots, to play some football,” Mr. Kennedy said.

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