February 26, 2024
‘Football City’: Nearly 2 dozen NFL players have come from one small South Carolina town

Friday evening higher school soccer video games are an American custom. But only one town — Rock Hill, South Carolina — phone calls itself “Football Town.” Which is simply because the metropolis of 75,000 says it has turned out extra NFL gamers for every capita than any other position in the U.S.

From just a handful of significant schools have arrive almost two dozen players who later on turned professional. That status spurs major dreams for the large university stars hoping to come to be tomorrow’s next pro athletes.

J’Zavien Currence, 14, is a single of individuals standout players. A freshman at South Pointe Higher College, he’s setting up varsity on one of the ideal teams in Rock Hill. He’s top rated rated not only in South Carolina, but the entire state.

For J’Zavien, soccer is a spouse and children affair. Jay Currence, J’Zavien’s dad and coach, also performed football expanding up in Rock Hill. Some of his teammates went on to the NFL, including cornerback Derek Ross and restricted finish Ben Watson.

PHOTO: Freshman player J'Zavien Currence is shown during an interview with ABC News.

Freshman player J’Zavien Currence is demonstrated in the course of an job interview with ABC Information.

ABC News

But even for the best youthful gamers, the aspiration of turning professional does not usually materialize. About 7{b037f4174007d005f1ab9cb8d1aafc050eb5d7e8c07298e478acc145e540df6a} of high school football players nationwide go on to engage in in college. Only 1.5{b037f4174007d005f1ab9cb8d1aafc050eb5d7e8c07298e478acc145e540df6a} of university players make it to the NFL, in accordance to the NCAA.

Jibrille Fewell was a single of those children who wager anything on soccer. He grew up in College or university Downs, a historically Black, reduced-income community in Rock Hill. He grew to become a standout participant in large school, and a football scholarship paid for his university instruction.

But when Fewell did not make it to the NFL, he came again to Rock Hill, and his psychological wellbeing took a switch for the even worse.

“I felt like a failure, and I did not know what was really upcoming, so I variety of went into a dim period,” Fewell advised ABC News.

Now Fewell coaches youth football. He’s trying to make certain that younger athletes know how to both of those perform the game and also have the resilience to be Ok when it ends. He delivers in mental health advocates and even previous players to his soccer camps to help children believe outside of the game.

“Football in this neighborhood is only a single route and all people seeking to go as a result of that one particular door,” Fewell stated.

Phillip Adams, another standout substantial college player, made it by that door. But his NFL job was plagued by accidents, which includes a broken ankle that required medical procedures and two concussions over a few online games. He left the NFL in 2016 and returned to Rock Hill, where by he struggled with his psychological and actual physical well being.

In 2021, tragedy struck when Adams shot and killed Dr. Robert Lesslie, his wife Barbara and two of their grandchildren, along with James Lewis, an HVAC technician operating in the household. A different employee, Robert Shook, was critically wounded and later on died. Adams took his personal everyday living in the course of a standoff with law enforcement.

Right after the incident, Boston University executed an autopsy of Adams’ brain to identify if chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, could have played a position in the incident. The autopsy discovered that Adams had an “unusually severe” sort of the sickness.

“The mix of lousy impulse command, paranoia, poor decision building, emotional volatility, rage and violent tendencies caused by frontal lobe hurt could converge to decrease an individual’s threshold for homicidal acts,” neuropathologist Dr. Ann McKee mentioned at the time. McKee pointed out that Adams’ football vocation put him at large possibility for the advancement of CTE, a diagnosis that are unable to be verified ahead of demise.

Not too long ago, several significant-profile injuries in the NFL, including Damar Hamlin’s cardiac arrest and Tua Tagovailoa’s concussions, have raised thoughts about the security of the recreation and issue for the players.

The NFL has the highest amount of reported concussions amongst the 4 main U.S. specialist athletics leagues, mentioned a 2021 report in the Mother nature journal.

In a assertion, an NFL spokesperson mentioned the league “continues to make the sport safer through improved tools, rules adjustments and attempts to minimize head make contact with,” noting that the quantity of concussions are “25{b037f4174007d005f1ab9cb8d1aafc050eb5d7e8c07298e478acc145e540df6a} lessen than just a couple of years back.” The spokesperson also claimed the NFL has created a group of “world-class” health-related industry experts on the sidelines in circumstance of an emergency, incorporating that emergency action plans are in area at all NFL fields and practice services.

Issue for player safety is also existing at the higher university stage, the place football has the greatest price of concussions between any other activity, in accordance to a 2019 epidemiology research published in the Pediatrics journal. Researchers when compared concussions costs in 20 distinctive large college athletics from 2013 to 2018.

For Jay Currence, there is “always that slight fear” of injuries threat for his son. At the close of very last year, J’Zavien sprained his ankle, using him out of the last two video games of the season, together with the large match versus his rival substantial college.

“You just test to get ready greatest you can, take care of your system ideal you can, play as protected as you can,” Currence said.

At 14 yrs old, J’Zavien says he already has many presents to engage in school soccer at Division I educational institutions.

“We also chat about that, you are not often heading to participate in, and a single day, they are going to take your jersey from you and you’re going to have to be a successful man or woman and a citizen out listed here, even after you engage in,” J’Zavien said.

The family members of James Lewis and Robert Shook did not reply to ABC News’ ask for for remark. The Lesslie family and the Adams family declined to remark.