NEW BRITAIN - The Tebucky Jones Youth Football Camp gives young football players in New Britain an opportunity to work alongside the former New England Patriots safety and current New Britain High School head football coach but this year, Jones was not the only pro on hand.
On Saturday, Washington Redskins tight end and New Britain native Jordan Reed was at Chesley Park helping out with the camp.
“It’s good because [the kids] get to see a guy who played in Connecticut and it shows them that whatever you put your mind to, you can do whatever you want,” Jones said about having Reed in attendance. “Not just NFL, anything in life. As long as you have the right goals and the mind to do it.”
Reed is entering his fifth season in the NFL, all of which have been with the Redskins. He was a third-round draft pick by Washington in the 2013 draft and last May, he signed a five-year contract extension worth $50 million. In December, he was named to his first Pro Bowl.
For Reed, being back in his hometown and at Chesley Park helping out the youth football community meant a lot.
“It feels great. It brings back a lot of memories of when I was a kid, playing basketball right over there and swimming in that pool. It’s awesome,” he said. “I grew up playing with all my friends, playing football and going to the parks and competing. That’s what taught me a lot and what I do now, so it feels good to see these young guys out here and with the support they have. It’s great to see.”
“It means a lot that I can show that [they can make it]. When I was growing up, there weren’t many guys to look at and to give you hope that it’s possible. So I’m glad that I can do that for some of these kids.”
Jones also enjoyed having Reed at the camp because of what he can represent to the youth players in New Britain.
“That’s always good because I always tell the kids, little do they know, if you really pay attention to the NFL, there’s a lot of guys that are from Connecticut in the NFL, you just don’t know the names,” he said. “I even found that out when I was playing. One year, we were playing St. Louis and the starting corner was there and I looked in the game plan and it was a kid from Hartford. So it’s always good to let them know [to] follow your guys from Connecticut and then maybe, one day, it’ll be you and people will be following you.”
Not only did he enjoy helping out at the camp, Reed was also impressed by its participants.
“It’s been awesome. It’s been great to see,” he said. “It looks like a lot of talented young kids out there so it’s exciting.”
In addition to the buzz around having a current NFL playerer there, Jones and others with the camp were excited by the weather, which turned out much better than what was expected.
“It’s a great day because you looked at the forecast [but] they’re always wrong,” Jones said with a big smile. “They said it was going to rain the entire day at first and it cleared up. There’s a nice breeze out here, a lot of kids running around and when you’ve got a lot of kids running around, it’s always a good day.”
Both Jones and Reed hail from the Hardware City and are two terrific role models for the city’s aspiring football players. Their presence and involvement in the youth football community can only do positive things for it.
“I’d like to leave y’all with this,” Jones said in a speech to the players at the conclusion of the camp. “If you remember one thing, [remember that] when you set a goal high, no one in this world can tell you that you can never set that goal except for one person. You know who that is? Yourself.”
Josh Kestenbaum can be reached at 860-973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @K_baum30