Thursday, June 5, 2008

The NFL: Where 'I don't have that kind of money' happens

Posted By on Thu, Jun 5, 2008 at 8:45 AM

Ginn's bus tour helped payers like Ryan Driggins showcase their talents for schools that otherwise would never had heard of them.
Interesting story in this morning's Plain Dealer about the annual summer bus tour of Glenville football coach Ted Ginn, who for years has been taking young football players -- from his school and schools around the metro area -- on tours of Midwest colleges, to work out for prospective coaches. Ginn, a native of the Glenville neighborhood and tireless advocate for kids, has had amazing success with a wide range of players -- from standouts like Ray Small and Robert Rose (who now play for Ohio State) to lesser players like Ryan Driggins, a lineman who stood less than 5-foot-6 but somehow got a deal to play college ball in West Virginia. (Like almost all of Ginn's players, Driggins came from an environment not exactly conducive to academic success. And sadly, he never did make it to college) In today's story, Ginn says the tour might not happen, because -- despite helping launch the NFL careers of a few players and saving countless others from Cleveland's Grand-Theft-Auto-esque streets -- he hasn't received any donations: ...
It costs $50,000 each year to operate the bus tour, Ginn said. Ginn estimated 175 athletes have taken part, with about 125 receiving scholarships. "Each player pays $400 to participate, which brings in $18,000," said Ginn. "I put in $10,000, with the remaining $22,000 coming from donations. "It bothers me because after all these years, I'd thought somebody would embrace the idea and step up because we're only trying to help the kids in Ohio."
As a reader on cleveland.com points out, the story's a little disingenuous: It implies somehow that players like Troy Smith (Ravens) and Donte Whitner (Bills) haven't stepped up, but it seems pretty clear Ginn never asked them: "I usually go out and talk to our regular donators, but I didn't even do that this year because I didn't have the time." It's hard to imagine that Smith -- who starred at Glenville under Ginn after getting kicked out of St. Edwards -- wouldn't drop a few thousand to help some neighborhood kids. Same with Whitner. He made $9 million last year. If he can't pony up $10,000, somebody should run him over with his own Denali. And Pierre Woods -- a Patriots linebacker, and the first Tarblooder player to play at a major college (Michigan) after being mentored by Ginn -- has already said he'll help out. Although not too much. He's on a tight budget, after all:
"If I was a top-round draft pick, I would have been the first one to send money. I would have funded the whole [tour] but I don't have that kind of money. I was undrafted and worked my tail off to make [the Patriots]. Heck, I still drive a 1999 Ford S-150 pickup truck with a kicked-in grill and cracked windshield."
If you're wondering: In two years in the league, Woods has made $650,000. Who knew the cost of windshields had risen so far? -- Joe P. Tone


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