New Era hosted 200 young football players for a ProCamp, with LaDainian Tomlinson, Bryce Young, and more serving as coaches.
On the eve of the Super Bowl, New Era took some time to give back, and the headwear giant brought out some of the NFL’s best to do it.
New Era gathered 200 young athletes from two youth football programs — the Watts Rams and Northeast Lincoln Tigers — for the New Era ProCamp as part of the NFL’s 2022 Play Family Football Festival at Bishop Mora Salesian High School. As part of the event, New Era made a $10,000 donation to each organization.
New Era also brought reigning Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young, 2006 NFL MVP LaDainian Tomlinson, 2020 NFL Comeback Player of the Year Alex Smith, and three-time Pro Bowler and former Panthers tight end Greg Olsen to serve as coaches.
“Kids are kids, it doesn’t matter what city you’re in, they are all thankful and eager to learn,” Olsen said at the event. “For New Era to come out and do this on a Saturday afternoon, it’s a blessing for them and for us.”
Olsen is no stranger to community work. He founded Receptions for Research: The Greg Olsen Foundation in 2009 to help fund cancer research.
“I’ve been fortunate,” he said. “I’ve worked with New Era for a good portion of my career for some NFL promotional stuff and they’ve also been a good partner of mine for some of the youth stuff I do back in Charlotte.”
Kids of all ages, NFL representatives, New Era employees, and the pros themselves were spread across the field, which was set up with various stations throughout. On one side, the young players were able to run drills to learn good tackling form and route running. On the other, there were opportunities to get autographs and equipment fittings.
Tomlinson was one of the camp’s most popular attendees. He ran routes against multiple young athletes, giving them the opportunity to either beat him with a route or lock him down as a defensive back.
“It’s inspiring for me because this is coming full circle. I was once in their shoes going to Jay Novacek’s camp meeting guys like Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin,” Tomlinson said. “This is a confidence booster, they’re going against me and they see that I’m a normal guy and they just beat me. But more than anything I think it gives them a boost in motivation.”
“Any time I get to come back home it’s great, but for it to be something like this and to be around these kids and NFL legends, it makes it that much more special,” he said.
Along with the football-related activities, the festival’s goal was to unite youth and high school football communities, drive positive conversations centered around the values of the game, celebrate the importance of youth and high school football coaches, and highlight girls’ flag football.