Brandon Lloyd finding his football footing
EL JEBEL — Brandon Lloyd wasn’t stressing too much when no NFL teams came calling before, or during, the 2013 season.
“Actually, it was kind of a relief,” said Lloyd, who was helping put on the third-annual Brandon Lloyd Football Camp at Crown Mountain Park. “I mean, 10 years straight. I was really enjoying the anonymity. But at the same time, this is still the career path that I love. I love playing football.”
Lloyd, a wide receiver, will have a chance to do that this fall after signing a one-year contract with the San Francisco 49ers on April 15. He’ll join the same team that drafted him out of Illinois in 2003, and he jumped from there to Washington, Chicago, Denver, St. Louis and New England before he was released following the 2012 season.
The camp, which Lloyd has done annually thanks in part to his good friend and Crown Mountain Executive Director Chris Woods, was going to happen regardless of Lloyd’s affiliation to any NFL team. The only thing that the Niners’ call to Lloyd did was delay it for a few weeks. The second and final day of the camp is today at Crown Mountain Park.
“We were going to hold it a little earlier this year, and then Brandon called me, told me the news and was all apologetic,” Woods said. “My response to that was ‘Why are you apologizing? Good for you!’”
The one-month delay in the initially planned date of the camp, which caters to as many as 100 youth football players up to age 14, didn’t deter anyone. Woods said that more than half of the camp’s contingent came from Glenwood Springs, New Castle and Rifle, with plenty of Aspen and Basalt players mixed in. Many of the coaching staff came from downvalley, also, bringing equipment for the camp that will be used this fall by the Mountain West Youth Football League (formerly Three Rivers Football).
One of the kids who has taken part in the camp each of its three years is Thomas Wirth of Basalt, who at 14 won’t be able to come again next year. His mom, Kerry, said he’s disappointed about that, but will likely take some tips into high school with him when he’s a freshman at Basalt this fall.
“The last two years, he’s personally talked to every kid at the camp to give them some kind of a tip to get better,” Kerry Wirth said. “It’s really fun to know someone takes the time to do that.”
Woods echoed Wirth’s remarks.
“One of the things he told me is that when he was a kid and went to football camps, all of the pros there would cop an attitude,” Woods said. “He said it made him not want to play anymore. But he also said to me that he promised himself that if he ever made it and ran a camp, he wouldn’t be that way to the kids there.”
It’s not like Lloyd doesn’t know what he’s doing. Over the course of his professional career from 2003 to 2012, he has 385 receptions for 5,695 yards and 35 touchdowns. His banner year came in 2010 with the Broncos, when he had 77 catches for 1,448 yards and 11 TDs.
And it’s not like he just sat around for that full year he wasn’t playing football professionally. Lloyd, who will be 33 on July 5, took on a full-time gig at a metal service center in composite tooling. He also played in a men’s tennis league in the fall, then cross country skied and snowshoed in the wintertime to stay in shape, among other things.
“I was flattered that I was off a full year from football and that there was a team that still expressed an interest in bringing me back,” he said. “I feel I’m ready to compete, though. I still have a little ways to go as far as conditioning, but I’m very committed to this.”
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