Participants of the New York Giants Youth Football camp at Oak Knoll School in Summit got an exciting visit from one of the Giants best known players from the 1990s, as Rodney Hampton stopped by the camp on Tuesday to speak with the kids and sign autographs.
After a warm-up opened the day, the kids huddled around the former running back on the field for a quick lesson on what it takes to make it, not only in the NFL, but in life.
“It’s always great to come see the kids when they’re out here working hard,” Hampton said. “I always tell them that there are three things in life to follow: believe in yourself, work hard and be disciplined. And if you do that it will take you a long ways in life.”
Who better to give advice to a group of aspiring football players, than one of the best running backs in New York Giants history?
“I’ve known him now for five years and he’s always been a part of this camp,” Camp Director and head football coach at Butler High School, Jim Matsakis said. “It’s good because the NFL tries to tie past players with current players and when you have former players come, they have a different appreciation for the game. These guys are more about the history of the game.”
Because the camp ranges in age from 5-13, many of the kids at this camp may have to go to their parents or the Internet to discover how dominant Hampton was during his time with the Giants. But Hampton is happy to help them learn a little bit about the history of the game.
“Most of the kids, they weren’t born when I was playing but their parents know me,” the two-time probowler said with a laugh. “Some of them will go look me up and say, ‘oh, you were pretty impressive,’ so it’s good for them to go back and look at the history and see some of the older guys.”
While the man who ranks second all-time in rushing for the Giants with 6,897 yards helps the kids appreciate the history of the game, he also imparts on them some great advice.
“You’ve got some guys who can play but have bad attitudes and aren’t disciplined,” he said. “Coaches and teachers aren’t going to put up with that, so that’s what I stress to the kids."
Aside from speaking to the group, seeing the kids outside, working out and having fun is a big part of what makes these trips rewarding to Hampton.
“The main thing is that they’re out here playing football and having fun,” he said. “It’s good to be out here with the kids.”
Don’t expect these camps to inspire the 42-year-old into attempting a comeback though, as his playing days are a thing of the past.
“I don’t miss getting hit,” he said emphatically.