Florio Jr. looks forward to summer primarily because it brings the ability to stay up late, sleep in, play video games, and otherwise not have to use his brain.
This year, however, he has realized that he loves football more than he loves sitting around the house. So he was perched in the passenger seat of the ’68 VW bus repeatedly texting “lets go” to me at 5:50 p.m. ET last Monday, a full 40 minutes before his middle school team’s first offseason football practice was due to begin. He also got up extra early this morning, for a change, because the annual West Virginia edition of Cardinals tight end Anthony Becht’s annual football camp began just a few miles from our house.
Becht conducts two camps every summer, one in the Clarksburg/Bridgeport area, where he played college football, and in Eastern Pennsylvania, where he grew up. (Next Monday, the Philly-area camp opens at Becht’s high school alma mater, Monsignor Bonner High School in Upper Darby.)
So I drove Florio Jr. over to the camp this morning, and he thought he was cool with his new cleats clacking on the concrete as we walked toward the field. And then on the way home I stopped to get a coffee at the Sheetz convenience store that’s roughly a quarter-mile from my house, and I bumped into Cardinals running back LaRod Stephens-Howling and Chiefs quarterback Tyler Palko, who were grabbing some Gatorade and grub on the way to help out with the camp.
(It’s possible that they are the first NFL players to enter a Sheetz store since Steelers kicker Jeff Reed beat up a paper towel dispenser.)
Stephens-Howling, a seventh-round pick in 2009, had a solid rookie season as a special-teamer in Arizona, including a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against the Titans. And Palko, who has bounced around the league, got a lot closer to sticking on the Chiefs’ roster last week, when Matt Guttierez was cut.
Recently, Chiefs coach Todd Haley gushed about Palko’s potential. “He’s energetic,” Haley said. “He’s been around some real good quarterbacks in the
years once he’s gotten out of school. He’s had great exposure in New
Orleans with Drew Brees and Sean Payton, who I know real well. He spent
some time out in Arizona with Kurt [Warner)]and Kenny [Whisenhunt]. So
I’m excited about some of the things he’s doing.”
Both Stephens-Howling and Palko were incredibly friendly and polite, and they seemed to be genuinely happy to be in town for the camp, which runs through Wednesday.
Since this is the slow period and since plenty of NFL players will be conducting camps for kids throughout the country, feel free to send us a link to any camps you know about, and we’ll get the word out.
Given that plenty of guys will continue to do dumb things in their down time, it’s good to focus from time to time on the ones who give something back, other than a breath sample.