Put together a nice fall afternoon, several dozen fourth-graders, five Dallas Cowboys and some kid-size footballs, and you get some really crazy flag football on Corey Elementary School’s playground.
Organizers of Monday’s 16th annual Hometown Huddle event hope to get an energized bunch of youngsters who will take to heart the lessons of motion for health’s sake.
Someone like Astrid Spann, 10, whose cheeks were as rosy as her hair.
“I have no problem with that,” she said of the NFL Play 60 motto to get in an hour of physical play every day. She plays football with her five sisters and little brother, and kept the ball away from Cowboys safeties J.J. Wilcox and Barry Church.
“Sometimes I play tackle [football] and sometimes I play tag,” she said, excited to have a session with her favorite team and maybe get a photo or autograph. “I never miss a game, and it’s really a good opportunity get my stepdad a Christmas present.”
Cowboys George Selvie, Tyrone Crawford and Kyle Wilber joined Wilcox and Church for the afternoon of flag-football-related drills and dashes.
The Hometown Huddle is a leaguewide day of community service when NFL clubs and the United Way promote youth health and wellness through the Play 60 campaign.
Corey Principal Steve Howell came out to watch the students going through their paces with the pros.
“I’ve been diabetic for 25 years,” Howell said. “I know from experience how important being active is.”
As part of the Hometown Huddle, Corey received a $2,500 grant from the Gene and Jerry Jones Family Foundation for NFL Flag football equipment. The Arlington district received $2,500 to fund NFL Flag kits for eight other elementary and middle schools.
“I try to do events like this as much as possible,” Wilcox said after the hour of tagging the laughing children. “It’s great to get out here and see the kids smile and get to play with them and be a kid again.”
Wilcox grew up in the small town of Cairo, Ga., and “it wasn’t too long ago that I was where they are, myself.”
His teammate Church also enjoyed the day.
“When they ask us to do things like this, it’s an easy decision,” Church said. “I wish I had this opportunity when I was growing up to have professional athletes come visit my school, play around with me for a little bit.”
Staff writer Drew Davison contributed to this report.