07/01/11 – DeAndre Butler
I’ll start off with how I was invited. I found out through Emanuel Cook’s Facebook page that he was giving away signed photos of him for free, all you had to do was send him an email. I did. This is what I got in return.
Anyways, back on topic! I ended up confirming with Emanuel that I’ll be there Friday to support his event for DeAndre Butler. I didn’t know much about the event, and what was going to happen at the Duffy’s Meet and Greet, but I was very excited!
Picture it now being July 1st: I’m at this University of Miami summer college program called Summer Scholars. It’s three weeks and it’s for high school students to take college classes and earn college credit. Today’s the day of the event, and I’m on the way. I’m trying to get out of learning mode, and into a new mode.
We’re driving up to Duffy’s in West Palm Beach, FL, and I’m trying to explain to my parents who these players are that will be showing up. I explain to them that Emanuel Cook is a New York Jets safety. I don’t know who else will be there, but I tell my parents that it’ll be a fun event. I don’t really know what to expect, I really have never been to a meet and greet as a fan. I guess that’ll always remain now, since I’ll be writing articles for you about them. We pull into the shopping center, and look around for Duffy’s… We find it. We pull up and park. What did I bring with me? Not much… my iPhone to take notes and photos. That’s really it. I also want to remind you I met and talked with Emanuel briefly at the T.E.A.M. Elam event.
We walk in. We ask the hostesses where the Meet & Greet is… They tell us just around the corner and outside. I’m very excited to meet Emanuel again, he’s a great guy, and someone who has recently established himself a very positive and solid reputation on Twitter and FaceBook.
I walk over, and I see Emanuel Cook [@emanuelcook27] sitting at a table right next to a friend he soon introduces me too, Rams safety, Darian Stewart. But, I go, “What’s up Emanuel?” He stands right up from his chair and gives me one of the most heart-warming welcomes from a player-to date. We chat and get photos together. I introduce him to my mother and father. I just feel this vibe from him, and it really feels like I’m more than welcome to be there. We catch up about training and he’s just excited for football to return, and to go play with the New York Jets. He’s enjoying the event, and shows me that Santonio Holmes and Kenrick Ellis had donated signed footballs, and that we can buy raffle tickets. He also showed me the bracelets that they were selling to raise money. He was so excited and signed a card for me. It was totally awesome of him to do that. He then introduced me to Darian Stewart.
I’ll be honest, I had no idea who Darian Stewart was. Now I do. Darian Stewart [@BamaBred24] was a beast in his days at South Carolina. Some experts had him in the top five safeties in his draft class. He was undrafted, but he’s a great special teams player, and a hard worker. He played the linebacker/safety role known as ‘spur’ and was projected a mid round pick. He couldn’t of been nicer, and funnier too. The way he presented himself signing photos and talking with fans was something that was just very cool to see up close and personal. The one thing I regret not asking him if he has any memories hazing by/with/of Emanuel, but they looked to be very good friends which is great to see. He hasn’t had any playing time with the Rams, but he’s looking to make their active roster this year. I look forward to hopefully being able to watch him play special teams this season.
I find Emanuel again, and I have no idea what Sarah DeLuca looks like. Sarah has been hugely behind Emanuel’s success online and for the event. She’s put in countless hours of work and I just wanted to go up to her and thank her for all of what she’s done. I see her and she’s totally awesome. We take a great photo, and she meets my parents. She gives nothing but compliments about me to my parents, so in this case, I leave her and my parents chatting, and just walk around and introduce myself to some other fans.
I then look over and I also get to see that Kenrick Ellis donated a signed football. I also look and see another signed football. I flip the information around, and it says Santonio Holmes donated this signed ball. That’s amazing! Unfortunately, Holmes couldn’t be there, but it was definitely great seeing the support from his JETS teammates!
I see another familiar face, from a previous charity event, Kenrick Ellis [@KenrickEllis]. Oh what is there to say about this guy? He’s so humble. It’s almost unbelievable. He remembers me, and we talk some, but he’s also signing autographs for some kids, so I have to be patient when I talk with him. He’s so humble that he connects with just about anyone it seems. It seems that he couldn’t be more grateful for this opportunity that lies ahead of him. I see him talk with a fan, who’s a little drunk to say the least, but he couldn’t be more understanding and thanking of the fan to show up and support him. It’s very remarkable to see him just communicate at a level with anyone really. I watch him get interviewed by another media member, and he just talks about giving back to the place where he grew up, and where he considers home. He’s awesome, but then I see one last player.
The last player I see, I don’t recognize, but I introduce myself to him, and it’s very cool experience. Willie Young [@YoungWill79] is a really nice guy. He’s a defensive lineman for the Lions, but we talk about how stacked the season will be. We talk about how much fun it will be in Detroit. I talk to him about who I know in Detroit, and we connect. He’s a really nice guy, and we get a great photo! I wish him nothing but the best of luck this season, and then I watch him talk to all the little kids and sign photos for them. Totally awesome to watch him do this for Emanuel.
I meet a fan of my website actually at the event, who is a huge fan of the JETS and a fan of Emanuel and Kenrick. Robert Nacarano started a fan site for New York Jets topics he’d like to talk about. Rob [@Nacarano] is a really nice guy, and it’s actually pretty remarkable to talk to someone on Twitter/FaceBook often, and then meet and talk face-to-face.
I also got to meet other Jets fans who came to support Emanuel. It’s great to see the support for this event. I also got to meet Gerrell Cook, Emanuel’s cousin, and we got one awesome photo. Not going to lie, I love it.
Dinner was good. But, I don’t think we need to go into depth about what I ordered. It was really cool to go there and be a part of it. One thing I will mention, after we (my parents and I, had dinner and went back outside, the power went out. Apparently so many people showed up to support, that the power in the whole building went out, and it was just not a fun experience for anyone there, well inside. For the fans outside, we were having fun. We brought the house down raising money for blood cancer. It was great!
This was for a great cause, and if you want to donate anything to support, please check out http://www.facebook.com/RememberDeAndreButler on Facebook!