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Giants defensive lineman Chris Canty admits he is “actively concerned” about the long-term effects concussions and blows to the head can have on a football player. It’s not something the seven-year veteran is taking lightly.
He will be hosting a “Camp of Champions” on June 28 and June 29 in Washington Heights where more than a dozen current and former NFL players, along with members of the Police Athletic League and Fire Department football teams, will teach proper techniques to more than 300 youngsters in a non-contact environment.
“When it relates to the youth, we want to teach them the fundamentals of the game while limiting contact — especially blows to the head,” Canty said yesterday at the Giants training facility in East Rutherford. “I think the concern for player safety is headed in the right direction at the NFL level, and I believe it will trickle down to the collegiate level, the high school level and so on.
“But I think it’s very important that we acknowledge that this is something we need to address when we’re talking about the injury rate and how it’s affecting life after sport.”
Canty has held the camp in Charlotte, N.C., the past six years, but is relocating it to Manhattan to strengthen his bond with the New York area. Open to youngsters ages 8 to 16, it will be held at the George Washington Educational Campus on Audubon Avenue in Washington Heights, a location Canty picked because of its easy access to public transportation.
“We wanted to be able to access and share the experience with the kids up here because they need it,” Canty said. “My platform is here. I live here full-time, so it’s important for me to able to help this community. It’s important for me to give back to the New York metropolitan area.”
The camp isn’t just about learning proper football fundamentals.
“We try to use the platform of athletics to relay other messages about life skills, communication, leadership, teamwork, motivation and discipline,” he said. “We try to relay those messages through sport and physical activities.”
With the effects of concussions becoming an issue of concern, not only in the NFL but to parents of high school kids and younger, Canty wants to offer a reminder of the benefits of playing football. It is a rough sport, no doubt. Canty underwent knee surgery the Wednesday after the Giants beat the Patriots 21-17 in Super Bowl XLVI and is spending the OTAs rehabbing. But he would have it no other way.
“There’s always that concern [of injury],” he said. “With that being said, I love what I do. I would not rather do anything else in the world than play professional football. I understand I can’t play it forever, but I try to do the right things to take care of my body and limit the hits as much as possible.
“Every man has to make their own choice. At the high school level is a little dicey because you’re not talking about adults there, you’re talking about children. But at the collegiate level and pro level you can hear the claims and address them. But at the same time, every man is free to choose how they make a living. I love the game. I think it’s the greatest team game on earth. There are a lot of people that share my passion of the game. There are certain lessons you learn on the gridiron that you can’t learn in a classroom.”
For more information on the Camp of Champions, call 704-900-4081 or 704-589-5944.
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