Several board members of the Blanton Collier Sportsmanship Group presented nerf footballs to Lexington Police Department's Tates Creek station at a recent ceremony. The nerf footballs contain character traits for which former UK and Cleveland Browns coach Blanton Collier and the BCSG organization stand. Police officers will carry the footballs in their cruisers and give them to kids throughout the city to encourage positive conversations and interactions.
By Jamie H. Vaught
The Lexington-based Blanton Collier Sportsmanship Group, which promotes integrity and ethics in athletics, has recently developed a worthy community project and it has something to do with helping the kids thrive in a positive environment.
Not too long ago, the non-profit organization, which is named after former UK and Cleveland Browns head football coach Blanton Collier, decided to launch a new football program involving the Lexington Police Department and the children.
The BCSG is supplying nerf footballs to the local police as a tool for the law enforcement officers to use when interacting with local youth, and the footballs has a list of character traits on them.
“(This) BCSG football program is called Operation Conversation,” said board member and president Ron Butler. “The idea is simply to equip squad cars with nerf footballs to be given away at random as officers routinely cruise neighborhoods.
“Printed on the footballs are one-word character traits -- honesty, restraint, tolerance, determination and patience -- thus we are calling them character footballs. The character footballs are designed to be ‘conversation starters’ between police officers and youth. This is an effort on the part of BCSG to diffuse the stigma our community youth may have toward police officers.”
Author and board member Dr. Kay Collier McLaughlin, the daughter of Blanton Collier, said the program is off to a great start. “The response has been enthusiastic,” she added.
Former Cleveland Browns star Frank Minnifield, a four-time Pro Bowl selection who is also a board member of BCSG, is excited about the new program.
"There is something special about handing a kid a football and to see the glow, the excitement, the hope, and the dreams of a Central Kentucky kid day dreaming about running a touchdown in front of the whole world,” said Minnifield. “That dream could start today with one police officer starting a conversation by giving a boy or a girl a football sponsored by the Blanton Collier Board of Directors."
Minnifield says the board is trying to make a difference in the relationship between the Lexington Police Department and the next generation.
If you would like to help or sponsor this new program, you can donate $250 to have your name or business’ name listed on nerf footballs. For more information, you can contact Ron Butler at 859-231-9292.
Jamie H. Vaught, a longtime columnist in Kentucky, is the author of four books about UK basketball. He is the editor of KySportsStyle.com magazine and a professor at Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College in Middlesboro. You can follow him on Twitter @KySportsStyle or reach him via e-mail at KySportsStyle@gmail.com.