Royal Heads Home to Deliver Hope

Bills and former Redskins tight end Robert Royal returned home to New Orleans with the help of a great team of people to launch his first football camp. But in addition to some football fun, what he really wanted to be sure to deliver to the youngsters was hope.

Last Friday, Buffalo Bills tight end Robert Royal proved that you can go home again.

In fact, he was determined to return to New Orleans, Louisiana in hopes of making a difference in the lives of the stricken city's youth. Many are still struggling as the city continues to rebuild from the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina.

"I've always wanted to give back to the community, especially being a native of New Orleans," he said last week as he was making his final preparations for his 1st Annual T.E.A.M. Football Camp for Kids. "I want to bring some hope into their lives and let them know that you can do something positive with your life, so don't give up. You can move forward even with all the tragedy, there is hope out there."

The veteran tight end, who is entering his sixth season in the NFL, assembled an impressive group of players to launch the free camp, including some who also played at LSU before starting their professional careers.

"Takeo Spikes, one of my former teammates from Buffalo who's now with the Philadelphia Eagles and Ryan Clark, another native of New Orleans, who plays for the Steelers will both be there," he said. "I have Antonio Pierce, Marcus Washington, Fred Smoot, Kendrick Allen, and Dwayne Bowe helping out. Some of the guys from Buffalo are coming in as well, including Kiwaukee Thomas, George Wilson, and a number of others."

(Getty Images/Chris McGrath)
While the kids will get to spend some time learning more about football from the players, the camp's "Chalk Talks" with the campers will focus on the importance of staying positive -- even when faced with adversity -- working hard, getting a good education and staying away from drugs.

"Especially with all the devastation that's gone on, a lot of those kids have been faced with negative talk about what the city and people aren't providing for them," Royal explained.  "I just want to show them that there are people from Louisiana that are doing positive things and who care about them.

The former Redskins tight end, who is entering his second season in Buffalo, hopes to instill in each young person who attends the camp the T.E.A.M. concept that was chosen as the theme for this special camp.

"The idea of T.E.A.M., Together Everyone Achieves More, is something I firmly believe in because it takes more than one person to be successful in life," he said. "You need help from a lot different people to achieve your dreams."

Royal got plenty of help from a great team to put together this event, and he expressed his gratitude for the participation of his fellow NFL players, the many sponsors who got involved, and even to the NFL for making the NFL Yet Center in New Orleans available for the camp.

The invited campers are members of the New Orleans Boys and Girls Clubs, some of whom are still living in FEMA trailers while they continue to wait for permanent housing. Royal wants to be sure that they know that they can rise above all that adversity.

"I really want those kids know that as long as you put your best foot forward, believe in yourself, believe in others and respect others around you, whether it's in sports or society you'll make it in life," he said.

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