Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh did a great job explaining to all the invited football players there, from grade school to high school, how football is all about hard work and building strong character.
Given some of the antics of NFL players in the nightly news, his talk was a throw back to another, more hard working, innocent and pure, America. It was inspirational to the kids that were there and that means a great deal to me as a father to see wholesome speech from a public figure like an NFL coach.
Given the scandal, excessive salaries, and unsportsmanlike conduct I've seen in professional sports for the past 30 years, I lean more toward amateur athletics, but I was very impressed by this Raven's event, and especially Coach Harbaugh.
At one point when I was taking pictures, I saw him standing with a few Raven's staff. I approached him and thanked him for inviting my son and the other kids.
I gave him my card because I wanted him to see Jack Womer's post on my blog, in hopes that he would invite him to a game. After all, Jack is a HUGE Raven's fan, spent 91 of his 95 years in Dundalk next to Baltimore, and only left to be a Ranger and Screaming Eagle for almost 5 years to defeat the Nazi's.
The Raven's front office contacted me and it may work out that Jack gets to go to a Raven's game thanks to the yearly NFL veterans game whereby they thank vets like Jack.
My opinion of professional athletics is improving by leaps and bounds.
After watching the Raven's coaching staff working with these athletes all day, running them through speed and agility drills and plays, my appreciation of the work that goes into a football game increased dramatically.
Here are some pictures I took that hopefully convey the beauty, fun, athletic grace, and hard work of those who participated that day.