NFLPA selects camp for pilot corporate program
A National Football League player with local ties is one of six players in the league to receive support for his camp in the form of a pilot corporate program.
The NFL Players Association has selected Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins, a Holland Christian High School and MSU alum, for the program, which pairs camps with corporate partners to connect players with businesses and enhance the camp-going experience.
The Kirk Cousins Football Camp runs this Friday and Saturday at the Smith Football Stadium at Hope College. The overnight camp serves 240 sixth, seventh and eighth graders. Cousins also hosts a high school 7-on-7 tournament on July 18.
“Those two weekends are a lot of fun,” Cousins says at Redskins.com. “This will be the third year we’re doing it. We have fun, and it’s a good time. We put them up in the dorms and just have a blast.”
The corporate partners for the camps are Oyo, Fathead, Panini America and Fanatics.
The partners decided the program would be a great way to showcase their products to the demographics they want to reach, said Ahmad Nassar, president, NFL Players Inc., the NFL Players Association marketing arm.
Nassar said the players and campers aren’t charged for the partnerships, and NFL Players Inc. utilizes credits and a lot of goodwill.
The sponsors, he hopes, find value in the organic marketing. He said a company like Panini America — better known in the past as Donruss — could give out packs of trading cards to 100 campers, and if five of the campers become avid collectors, it would be worth the company’s investment in the long run.
“We’re in the business of marketing,” Nassar said. “We wanted an authentic way to advertise that doesn’t feel like a commercial. This is a genuine example of product marketing.
“It also helps the players and adds to the campers experience where they come to exercise, meet their heroes. It accentuates the experience.”
Connecting players with companies
NFL Players Inc. is a bottom-line-driven organization, but it seeks to do more for its member players and the communities they serve, said George Hegamin, senior manager of players services, NFL Players Inc.
“A lot of our players do a lot of different things for their communities, from foundations to camps,” Hegamin said. “We want to help them gain exposure and further the things they do in their communities.”
Hegamin was an NFL player and ran his own foundation and camps for nearly 15 years. He said one of the biggest issues is getting support from large companies.
He said matching up companies and players is a win-win for both sides.
When it was time to select the first several pilot camps, Cousins was one of the easy choices.
“Kirk is a great guy and fit what we look for,” Hegamin said.
The camps must meet several criteria to be selected: serve 200 or more campers; the player is in good standing with the NFL and NFL Players Association; the player has strong community ties; and the camp is free to participate.
The six camps are a test, but Hegamin said they’d like to be expand the program. He said the camps in the pilot are largely on the East Coast this year, for logistical reasons.
“We’re servicing 2,000 players, so, of course, we can’t support them all,” he said. “But we can choose the key demographics we want to serve to offer some very specific things in better ways.”
Five other NFL players were selected for the program: Oakland Raiders receiver Michael Crabtree; Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy; Buffalo Bills cornerback Mario Butler; Carolina Panthers defensive tackle Colin Cole; and Baltimore Ravens defensive end Chris Canty.