The Atlanta Falcons held a free football clinic for area youth at A.J. McClung Memorial Stadium on Wednesday evening. The clinic was held by Kids and Pros, a non-profit organization created by former Atlanta Falcons linebacker Buddy Curry, who was the 1980 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and an All-Pro selection in 1980 and 1982.
“I love the game of football and I love to give back,” Curry said. “I love to put young kids in front of high-character NFL players who believe in the things that are greater than football and the things you learn from organized sports, especially from football, that engender you to help make you a great person.”
Curry enlisted the help of current Falcons staff and players, most notably linebacker Philip Wheeler. Wheeler, a Columbus native, was on the Shaw High School state championship team in 2000 and also played his collegiate football in Atlanta for Georgia Tech.
“I played on this field as a kid in the Peanut Bowl, in middle school, and also in high school,” Wheeler said. “Seeing some of the folks I went to high school with, their kids are out here, so I’m having fun with their kids and seeing everyone again.”
Not only does Curry want kids to learn the fundamentals of football itself, but he also delivers the life lessons football can offer in his clinics.
“Football is a microcosm of life,” he said. “You can learn so many things about life through the game of football. Football coaches need to be teachers as well. They’re teaching through the things that happen in football to help kids gain confidence and to learn about life through football.”
Curry also serves as a master trainer for the USA Football Heads Up Program, teaching young athletes proper tackling techniques to avoid injury, especially head injuries.
“Football is an aggressive sport. It doesn’t need to be a violent sport,” Curry said. “With USA Football, we teach a better way to play. We want to minimize head contact. We do that through teaching fundamentals where it’s taught to lead with the front shoulder and not the head.”
Not only does the clinic teach area youth football fundamentals and the life lessons that accompany them, but it helps spread the Falcons brand and message as well.
“The Atlanta Falcons are so far ahead of any team in the NFL as far as getting information to the public,” Curry said. “I think the Falcons really care about the kids and playing safer and better. They want them to play and build the brand of football so that it continues to be what it is today.
“There’s nothing like the team game of football. Football brings individuals, families, and communities together. If everyone’s on the same page, we want this game to continue to be as great as it always was. If we can help make it better and safer, we’ve done a good job.”