Rams, SLPS Football Players Attend Leatherheads Screening

April 15, 2008

Rams, SLPS Football Players Attend Leatherheads Screening

By Evan Ardoin stlouisrams.com

A group of high school football players from Sumner High and Beaumont High in St. Louis were afforded a rare glimpse into the early days of professional football. The high school students were guests of several Rams players who organized and attended the advance screening of Leatherheads, a comedic film chronicling the birth of professional football in the 1920’s.

The students from Sumner and Beaumont are football players participating in the National Football Foundation’s Play it Smart program. The mission of the Play it Smart program is to help student-athletes take responsibility for their futures through lessons learned on the playing field, in the classroom and in service to others. The program features strong academic components with “academic coaches.” The coaches were in attendance as well, in the form of dynamic husband and wife team Lee and Kim Jackson.

While the movie was a nice treat for the high school students, the true payoff was getting to spend time with real professional football players. Attending the screening from the Rams were defensive backs OJ Atogwe, Darius Vinnett, linebackers Chris Draft, Tim McGarigle, running back Travis Minor, defensive tackle Clifton Ryan, assistant strength coach Chuck Faucett and even newly signed kicker Josh Brown.

The players congregated in the café of the theater and hosted an informal dinner with the students, talking about everything from football to college admissions. This was a great opportunity for the kids to get to know the Rams players as people, not just jersey numbers. The pros turned out to be a lot like the youngsters as boisterous laughter could be heard throughout the theater’s atrium. This was truly a unique bonding experience for both the Rams players and their young guests.

Following the film, the Rams and the youngsters got together for several pictures as well as a discussion about proper choices and taking hold of their future. Vinnett, Atogwe and Draft all shared personal stories and discussed an ongoing commitment to self-improvement. As the discussion winded down, hugs were exchanged and everyone went their separate ways for the night. For all the players in attendance, this was truly a night to remember.