NFL stars earn hoops victoryPublished 7:25pm Saturday, June 15, 2013
The game wasn’t about winning or losing, but when you have a court full of competitors everybody wants to win.
That was certainly the case in the final minutes of the exhibition basketball game between Terrance Copper’s NFL all-stars and the Washington Emergency Services as the contest was still up for grabs during the final minutes of the fourth quarter.
In the end, the Copper’s crew was able to pull out a 78-73 victory Friday night in a packed out Pam Pack gym, giving the former Washington High School and East Carolina University standout and current Kansas City Chiefs’ wide receiver a victory for the second straight year.
“We did it for the kids, but I tell you what, we don’t come out here to lose,” Copper said. “We come out here to win, but those guys had an awesome team and they took us to the wire once again. Hat’s off to them, they did an awesome job.”
After the game, Copper unofficially named Chief’s teammate Mardy Gilyard and former Pack basketball star Cor-J Cox the game’s co-MVPs.
Cox, who starred at Mississippi Valley State and played pro basketball in Austria this winter, said he was happy to be back home and take part in the event.
“It was awesome. I haven’t been back here in three years and to be able to come back to my high school and be able to play in this game was great,” Cox said. “I just wanted to come out and do stuff for the kids and show them that no matter where you come from you can still accomplish your dreams.”
Robbie Cox, a 6-0, 200-pound eight-year veteran of the Washington FD gave a great effort during the game but admitted he had his hands full against the pro athletes.
“They’re huge, I felt like a little baby going against those guys,” Cox said. “But this is just awesome. I think it’s great what they’re doing to help the community out.”
For the second year in a row Copper and the Washington Emergency Services played a free-of-charge exhibition game, which was preceded by a free community cookout and followed by a free football camp for local athletes.
While the hope is that everyone had a good time, the goal of the basketball game was to bring the community together.
“The reason why the NFL and the police and fire departments come together is to bring this community together,” Copper said. “The police officers do an awesome job protecting our community and the fans and the kids of Washington need to see that other side of them. They need to see that playful side and not just the serious side of them.”
Stacey Drakeford, the Director of the Police and Fire Services, agreed.
“I’m very happy that we were able to do this for a second year and I hope that this continues forever to be honest,” Drakeford said. “I feel like this game and other approaches that we used last year have been successful … When you put sports into the picture everybody gets along a lot better. They see us and we see them not on an adversary basis, but it’s us and them having a good time and we’re able to get to know each other on another level.”
Washington graduate and passionate Pirates fan Kenny Curlings was a spectator at the game and said he was rooting for the Emergency Services team because his nephew Ridge Hodges, a former WHS hoops star, was playing for them, but added that he was grateful for all the NFL players’ efforts this weekend.
“I have total respect for what the NFL guys are doing,” Curlings said. “To see what they’re doing for these kids and the community … These guys are in the middle of training camps and trying to make teams and they’re taking time to come to a small town and do this for the children and the community. My hat’s off to them.”