E.A. Sports Today

First person: It’s in the game

Intrepid photographer gets some one-on-one time with local NFL player after getting up close and personal with the action

These were the two players who helped photographer B.J. Franklin meet NFL linebacker Kwon Alexander Saturday. (Photos by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

These were the two players who helped photographer B.J. Franklin meet NFL linebacker Kwon Alexander Saturday. (Photos by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

By B.J. Franklin
Special to East Alabama Sports Today

I’ve always wanted to meet an NFL player, but this wasn’t exactly the way I envisioned it happening.

B.J. FRANKLIN

B.J. FRANKLIN

Being a fledgling photographer I am always anxious to ply my attempted trade when and wherever I can. So, when the editor of this website offered the chance to go to McClellan today to shoot the Kwon Alexander football camp, I jumped on it! He let me know that Alexander, a second-year pro from Oxford and LSU, and possibly his Heisman Trophy-winning Tampa Bay teammate Jameis Winston along with other NFL pros and local coaches would be leading this camp.

The place was packed with more than 300 participants ranging in age from 6 to 17. They were broken down in segments according to age and each segment had a coach/volunteer showing them the proper techniques to tackle, handoff, pass, catch and run. I wound up taking about 165 shots of every drill and most of the athletes involved.

I had just about wrapped up my shooting when I saw a group of receivers and defensive backs working on pass routes and coverage. I set up on the close side of the field and shot numerous plays and players.

Since this was a one-on-one drill the DBs were essentially on an island; everyone could see who was and who was not being beaten on the plays. Lots of cheering, jeering and noise about either winning or losing the drill. It was loud, with a whole bunch of hand slapping and finger pointing each way.

I’ll admit I got a little wrapped up in the goings-on and sort of lost attention. The next play started out on the far side of the field but quickly turned my way. I saw the pass coming down the line at me and I honestly thought I would reach out and bat it down, but it was falling fast.

The next thing I knew, two pretty big players were diving for the ball and I was the little old guy who looked like a bowling pin. Both of the players hit the ground to my right and rolled over my right leg and knee. The last time I did flip like that was off the diving board.

Down I went, both players still rolling over me. They jumped up and ran back to the starting line and I was there feeling around to make sure I still had two legs. I did, but they did not have shoes on them.

As I slowly made my way to my feet, checking to see my teeth were still there and all of my other appendages functioned at least as feebly as before the trucks rolled over me, I was met by a large young man running down to make sure I was OK.

Kwon Alexander helped me to my feet and checked me over, pulling me tight to him in a hug while making sure there was no lasting damage. I told him I was fine and I did not know why he “thought you might be hurt.” I let him know that I was only approaching 73 years of age and it was sure going to take more than that to keep me down.

We laughed together and he shook my hand again and I looked around like nothing had ever happened. I like to meet celebrities, but not by being knocked on my keister.

So now the story will be, “Oh yeah, Kwon and I hug every time we meet.” And the next time Al Muskewitz sends me on a job, I want hazardous duty pay.

B.J. Franklin is a retired Marine who lives in Oxford and now will keep a sharper eye on the action as he photographs local sports events for East Alabama Sports Today.

Alana Cruz awaits her turn to run with the boys at Kwon Alexander's camp Saturday. On the cover, Blake Carter goes hard in a high-step drill.

Alana Cruz awaits her turn to run with the boys at Kwon Alexander’s camp Saturday. On the cover, Blake Carter goes hard in a high-step drill.

Camp counselors and volunteers made sure everyone -- young and old -- was accommodated at Kwon Alexander's camp at McClellan Saturday.

Camp counselors and volunteers made sure everyone — young and old — was accommodated at Kwon Alexander’s camp at McClellan Saturday.



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