Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Walter Curry-A Class Act
Walter Curry, Adam Graves # 53-Hotch's Auto Parts-On His Birthday, James Hurst
Walter Curry loves playing football. He has been under contract with three National Football League teams: Baltimore Ravens, Jacksonville Jaguars, and the San Francisco 49ers. He was allocated to the Rhein Fire in 2006 by Jacksonville, then to the Berlin Thunder in 2007.
For the past two seasons, he has played with the Toronto Argonauts. He likes his situation in Toronto, and would like to continue to play there. “It is still a business,” he told me last Sunday. “I have to weigh all my options when making decisions. Some players leave the game because they want to be closer to home. I like playing football. If you have a team on the moon, I will go there and play football.”
Curry was in Belleville as part of an Argo activity at Rib Fest. He spent more than an hour with young players from the Belleville Minor Football League. He answered all of their questions. He put them through a series of drills. He advised them to work hard. He told them that his parents were the greatest influence on his football career. “Even after I had been cut by some teams, they just told me to stick with it, to work hard, and to dedicate myself to the game.”
Curry is a giant, standing six feet four inches, and weighing almost three hundred pounds. The first minor football player he met was Ryan McDougall. Ryan might be close to five feet tall, and almost one hundred pounds. Curry stared him down. “What position do you play?” he asked.
McDougall responded: “I’m a quarterback.”
Curry growled, “We’re not friends. I love hitting quarterbacks!” He quickly added, “Just kidding.” McDougall exhaled, and smiled.
Curry relished the opportunity to spend some time with the young players. It was not something available to him as a youngster. “I had a cousin by marriage who played in the NFL, Clarence “Pooh Bear” Williams. He encouraged me to play, but that was when I was in high school.”
Walter got a late start at the game, unable to play “Pop Warner Football” or any other minor football “because I was too big”. He began in high school, and went to Albany State in Georgia. He won the award as the All Conference Defensive Player of the Year, and led the nation in sacks. Originally a linebacker, he was moved to the defensive line as an Argo, and likes playing that position.
His time in Europe was truly an educational experience for the South Florida native. “I had the opportunity to learn so much history while playing in Europe. I toured museums, learned a great deal about the World Wars and the holocaust.”
His first visit to Canada came as a result of his football skills. Yet another geography lesson.
He is most impressed with the Canadian Football League. “It certainly is faster than the college game, and likely faster than the NFL in many ways---wider field, more motion in the backfield, only three downs to make a first down.”
One of the young players wanted to know something about his diet. “I’m really not a big eater,” he began. He then backtracked a little. “I did have a couple of racks of ribs last night. The ones at “Jack the Ribber” were very good.”
Curry is now twenty-eight years old, and has been relatively injury-free. “That comes from a lot of preparation,” he told the group. “I do have a couple of fingers that are supposed to go straight, but they are now pretty crooked.”
He likened the locker room to a family situation. “It is like having 50 to 60 brothers. We work together, we play together, we often do other social activities together.” He mentioned swimming, eating pizza and ice cream as favourite activities.
Curry knows that kids enjoy his visits. “They get a chance to see us outside our helmets. I like to talk to them and shake their hands.” Argo fans also have the opportunity to meet players after each home game. They are invited onto the field to meet players after the game. Not the Leafs, not the Jays. Not the FC boys. Just the Argos.
Curry believes that the Argos will turn around the season after a rather dismal start. “We have a great team. We need to get back to the table and put the puzzle pieces together.”
The affable lineman left a great impression with everyone present. A quality individual in the prime of his career, more than willing to share the dream with a few kids from the minor football league. An experience they will remember forever.