BOZEMAN – The second annual Atlanta Falcons Youth Football Camp kicked off in Bozeman Tuesday night and the kids were in for a treat.
More than 300 children attended the first night of the three-day event and they had the privilege of learning from some of the best in the game. Atlanta sent offensive lineman Ben Garland to the camp, as well as former Falcons great Buddy Curry.
“I did not expect to see this many kids out to a Falcons camp, it’s great to see it,” said Garland. “You can see Montana, it’s known for its outdoors and these kids are active and you can tell. These kids are happy, they’re running around, they’re playing, that’s what it’s all about — about having fun and being active.”
And it reminds him of when he first put on a helmet.
“You got a ton of kids out here and you see the joy on their faces and that’s why we all love football and that’s why we started playing. It really brings you back to your roots,” Garland said.
NFL pros from around Montana also pitched in to help. A few former Montana State Bobcats came, including current Arizona Cardinals tight end Beau Sandland and Dane Fletcher, a former New England Patriots linebacker. San Francisco 49ers lineman JP Flynn decided to help after he was at Fletcher’s gym on Thursday afternoon and heard about the camp.
The Montana guys knew that these kids were going to show up and play with heart.
“When I first walked in there was a line halfway through the parking lot, it was pretty impressive,” said Flynn. “Bozeman is a very outdoor community, kids are always outside and having fun, doing what kids should be doing today.”
Garland has been going all over doing camps and appearances and recently came back from an overseas tour in Iraq visiting the troops. For these NFL players, it’s all about giving back.
“I was talking to my dad the other day and I’ve been very blessed with what I’ve been presented in life, and it would be a crime not to give back,” said Flynn.
There is plenty of more teaching to be done, the camp runs Wednesday and Thursday from 6-9 p.m. and is free to all participants.