BRASHER FALLS — More than 40 children played flag football with three former NFL players at the first punt, pass and kick event in Brasher Falls’ Tri-Town Arena.
The event was part of the first Hometown Heroes Muskie Challenge and Riverfest, which honored Fort Drum’s wounded soldiers.
The day began with a fishing competition for wounded soldiers, which lasted until 3 p.m.
Family activities such as a bounce house, barbecue, poker run and wine tasting ran throughout the event. At 6 p.m., kids of all ages gathered for the punt, pass and kick competition.
Eddie Kidd, who played for the Oakland Raiders; Monte Spencer, a former Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker; and Samuel Kennedy, a former San Francisco 49ers linebacker, cheered on the kids who showed off their football skills at the event.
“I haven’t met any players, so it’s exciting,” said Michael J. Reed, 11.
All three of the former NFL players are avid fishermen who got involved with the event through FISHCAP and Wounded Warriors Outdoor Adventures.
“They wanted to support the wounded warriors, so they came up here on their own,” said Robert J. Giordano, director of Wounded Warriors Outdoor Adventures.
Kennedy was part of the 49ers’ Super Bowl-winning 1988 team, an accomplishment he said he sometimes still can’t believe.
“I’m here playing with some kids, and they don’t know I’m just a goofy old guy,” he said.
The children were split into four age groups, with the top performers in the punt, pass and kick competition wearing 49ers or Raiders jerseys.
After the competition, all the kids played flag football with the retired pros.
Jayden Ashley, 8, Brasher, plays as a wide receiver and tailback for the Tri-Town team.
“I want to play flag football with the professional people,” he said.
If the competition returns, it will be even bigger and better, said John A. Ward, chairman of the Hometown Heroes Muskie Challenge.
“If we do it again next year, we’ll have more players and a lot more going on,” he said.
For the pros, the events are a way to give back and have fun.
“You get a chance to get away from it all and get back to your roots, to play some football,” Kennedy said.