Former NFL player using football to teach life skills

Posted at 7:35 PM, Jul 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-21 19:35:40-04

LANSING, Mich. (WSYM) - Using the game of football to give life lessons and create bonds within the community. 
FOX 47's Marcus Dash spoke with a Lansing native and former NFL player on how he's using football to teach life values to the area's youth.

A rainy Saturday morning wasn't stopping dozens of Lansing's kids
from coming to play football at the Schmidt Southside Community Center in Lansing. 
A free camp put on by The Gridiron Institute led by former NFL player Damian Gregory. A way to give back to the community he grew up in.

"We've been giving back now for nine years, this is our 9th year doing it, trying to teach the kids accountability, being able to use school, and football as a platform to be successful," said Damian Gregory.

Helping Gregory with his camp is the Lansing Police Department. 
Lansing Seargent Eric Pratl says they came out to help today not in uniform, to show the people of Lansing, that law enforcement is also a member of the community. Like a good teammate, they'll always have your back.

"You can be part of the community, you can be a part of the Lansing Police Department, but we are all one team, we are all together," said Eric Pratl.

With former collegiate and NFL players, the camp is teaching Lansing's youth football players some important football skills, but Pratl says Gregory is giving these kids more. Gregory is an inspiration.

"He can come back here, show up, and show these kids, hey I am from Lansing, Michigan, and I can make it to the NFL," said Pratl.

Whether or not the kids will follow Gregory's footsteps to the NFL is to be determined, but Gregory hopes kids take his one piece of advice home with them.

"We are teaching kids to be accountable at an early age and the earlier you can teach them to be accountable, they'll be better citizens later on," said Gregory.

While Gregory has been retired from the game for some time, he says as long as he can continue to give back through the game, football will always be life.