The Oakland Raiders hosted an NFL Play 60 Character Camp this past weekend at their Alameda facility. Over two days, several hundred local kids learned football skills, while also focusing on building good character. The Raiders teamed up with the Muñoz Agency and former NFL offensive lineman Anthony Munoz's son, Michael Munoz, to execute fun-filled days for the camp participants.
"We teach the kids about football, but we also teach them about the Play 60 message and that's getting out and playing 60 minutes a day and learning about proper health and nutrition," said Muñoz. "Then also learning about being a person of character, attributes like character and integrity."
Photos from the first day of the Play 60 Character Camp at the Raiders facility.
On the first day of the camp, 13 Raiders rookies spent time with the campers, having fun and reinforcing positive character traits. "It's great. The Raiders organization and the community engagement they have – this is the second year we've worked with them – has been amazing," said Muñoz. "To have the level of engagement and the player involvement that the Raiders do, the kids love it and it makes the experience for them over the two days that much more special and something they'll remember the rest of their lives."
For the rookies, it was their first opportunity as a professional athlete to participate in a community event and the first where they could feel their impact on kids. "It's crazy. It's almost like I'm not really in the position I'm in because I'm still Khalil," said LB Khalil Mack. "It's crazy that they look at you the way they do and I just don't want to let them down and disappoint them in any way."
CB Keith McGill is embracing his new position as a role model. "It feels pretty good. It's a big responsibility but at the same time you have to take it for what it is and just make sure you make the Raiders organization look good, yourself look good and just be an inspiration to all these little kids out here," said the Raiders fourth-round selection.
McGill kicked off the rookies' visit with a message for the kids. "I was just telling the kids it just starts at the age they're at now," he explained. "Whether you're in first grade or whether you're in sixth grade if you're not doing the right things, then start doing the right things – listening to your teachers, listening to your parents, and understanding there's a lot more than football."
Photos of the Raiders veterans participating in the second day of the Play 60 Character Camp.
Local Raiders draft selection, CB TJ Carrie, was happy he was able to spend the day with the young athletes. "I wanted to participate because when I was a kid I always idolized players and I know that if I had an opportunity to do events like this, it might have changed or sparked something else in my life to look up to," said Carrie. "For the organization to do this, it really brings the community together. I think it was a blessing for them to do this."
Rookies LB Carlos Fields, TE Scott Simonson, T Erle Ladson, S Jonathan Dowling, DT Justin Ellis, RB George Atkinson, T Dan Kistler, G Gabe Jackson, and WRs Seth Roberts and Mike Davis also participated.
The second day of the Play 60 character camp included Raiders veterans – TE Nick Kasa, G Tony Bergstrom, WR Juron Criner, RB Jeremy Stewart, WR Greg Jenkins, SS Tyvon Branch, TE Brian Leonhardt and OL Kevin Boothe.
The camp continued to focus on building character, while incorporating football and team-building drills, and the veterans joined in on the activities with the kids. "It's a great opportunity to get to spend some time with great kids," said Boothe. "Obviously, there's a football-learning aspect to it, but it's also a good character building camp. The kids out there have great attitudes and there's no doubt in my mind that they're going to grow up to be successful individuals, whether it's in athletics or elsewhere."
Boothe kicked off the Raiders visit with a message for the kids. "We wouldn't have gotten to where we are professionally without building good character traits, whether that's working well together in a team atmosphere, or following directions and showing respect," said Boothe. "Those are things that seem to get you far in life, those are things that I wanted them to know that we still follow those principles on a day-to-day basis."
Ultimately, the veterans hope the kids understand the value of Play 60 as well as understand the importance of being an MVP – Most Valuable Person.
"I hope they understand the importance of the Play 60 and what that's all about and getting out and being active and eating right," said Branch. "With this one, this is a character camp, and teaching them good characteristics and good character traits, I hope they take that to heart and go out there and bring positivity to the world."
It's important to the Raiders to continue to embrace and give back to the community. "It's important. I think that everyone looks up to us and it's our social responsibility to be there for the community," said Boothe. "They're always lending their support to us out on the field, so it's the least we can do to get out there and show our support too. The kids, they're our biggest fans out there. Even when things don't go well, they still have our backs, so we're excited to be out here and reciprocate that love."