Former football players gather for camaraderie, golf, good cause

Former football players gather for camaraderie, golf, good cause

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Above, former NFL players Alphonso Carreker, Lee Thompson, and Sol Brannan take a break after completing Monday’s charity golf tournament. Right, Thompson visits with a young football fan, Max, while Carreker mans the grill. (Staff Photos by Christopher Dunn)

golf2A little rain never stopped a football game. It surely wasn’t going to keep a group of retired NFL players from hosting a golf tournament for a good cause. Monday morning, the Atlanta Former Players Chapter of the NFL Players Association hosted their 19th Annual Celebrity Charity Golf Tournament right down the road at the Canongate 1 Golf Club in Sharpsburg.
While the NFLPA works with a large number of charitable organizations, the golf tournament specifically helps fund their youth scholarship program, and the Atlanta chapter is one of the best at raising money. There is a former players group in each NFL city, and Atlanta has been Chapter of the Year three of the last six seasons.
“It’s a great event. We thank all the people for coming out, especially in this kind of weather,” said current president, Sol Brannan. “The biggest thing we do is to make sure students get great scholarships. It’s a lot of fun.”
Doing some good while hanging out with fellow former players is a big draw for many.
“I got involved because of the charity aspect and the camaraderie,” said Lee Thompson, a former Houston Oiler in the 1970s among other teams, adding he loves getting together with the guys.
There’s plenty of jawing back and forth between the players, and even a bit of self-deprecating humor. Asked when he played for the Oilers, Thompson joked, “I was there ’til they found out I was too short and too slow and they fired me.”
You could sit for hours and hours just listening to the old gridiron stories. Brannan alone has plenty. He scored the first ever touchdown in the history of the Cincinnati Bengals, and he also played in the first Super Bowl when he was with the Kansas City Chiefs. He remembers the game well and appreciates how far the NFL’s main event has come.
“I think we had about 18,000 in the stands and probably gave away 5,000 tickets. Now if you had 200,000, you could sell them all,” Brannan noted. “The game has changed. I always say whoever goes to the Super Bowl is rich, so it’s a rich man’s game now. When we played, it was just a game.”
The group loves what they do, and they hope the younger players start to chip in. It’s all about giving back, and they attack it with the passion they showed on the football field.
“These kids now are actually making too much money, but they’re slowly coming around to helping us with some of our charity stuff,” said Thompson. “We really get out there and get it. It’s awesome.”

Christopher Dunn

Managing Editor Christopher Dunn has been with the Fayette County News since 2011, in addition to running Fayette Victory magazine. He is a graduate of Fayette County schools, as well as a graduate of Georgia State University with a degree in journalism. Follow him on twitter @fayettesports.