Above: Former St. Francis QB Justin Posthuma, right, with Charter Oak QB Travis Santiago during a workout with professional, college and local athletes at Charter Oak. Posthuma is also below.
By Aram Tolegian, Staff Writer
COVINA – As part of an effort to reach out to fans scorned by the NFL’s ongoing labor dispute, about 30 professional football players took to the field at Charter Oak High School for a public workout Wednesday morning.
Under the direction of former Charter Oak standout Jason David, who played five years in the NFL and won a Super Bowl title with the Indianapolis Colts in 2006, the players worked on agility drills and later conducted a 7-on-7 scrimmage with referees from the Foothill-Citrus Officials Association overseeing the action.
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Among the players who participated was Carolina Panthers quarterback Jimmy Clausen, New York Jets defensive back Antonio Cromartie, Arizona Cardinals defensive backs Kerry Rhodes, Matt Ware and Hamza Abdullah, Oakland Raiders linebacker Bruce Davis and Seattle Seahawks tight end Dominique Byrd.
“Players just like to play and we appreciate the fans coming out,” said a player who asked not to be identified. “Players are fans at heart. That’s where it all starts. All the players are trying to do is reach out and touch the fans so that they understand the players are fans.”
Because of the NFL lockout, the players were not allowed to wear any team gear, which made it hard for some fans to identify who’s who on the field.
But that didn’t stop several hundred spectators from braving the heat to catch a glimpse of their Sunday heroes.
One of those fans was Albert Penalber Jr. of Bakersfield, who traveled to Charter Oak after finishing a graveyard shift at work just to catch a glimpse of the action and seek autographs.
“I wanted to meet (Antonio) Cromartie and get to tell Jason David thanks for putting this on for the community,” Penalber Jr. said. “I’m a bigger college football fan, but I do follow the NFL. This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing (to see). Usually, these guys would be in their training camps.”
The NFL lockout, which began on March 11, is fast approaching its five-month anniversary. With the season so close and at least the early preseason schedule in doubt, players have taken to social media websites like Twitter to get the message out about workouts.
However, they often have discouraged the media from covering such events because they say it’s not about publicity as much as it is showing the fans a gesture of gratitude for their patience.
One participant in Wednesday’s action never expected to be on the field when he arrived to see what all the fuss was about. Charter Oak quarterback Travis Santiago, who will be a senior this season, was thrust into action during the 7-on-7 portion of the workout because of a shortage of quarterbacks. Also seeing action was former St. Francis quarterback Justin Posthuma, who was a walk-on at UCLA last season and either will play at Pasadena City College or East L.A. College this fall.
“I was expecting to come out here and watch and learn,” Santiago said. “Then I got a chance to get in there and throw three passes. I wasn’t nervous or scared, it was more like an adrenaline rush. My first pass came out of there a little rushed.
“I’m not going to brag about it to people or anything, but if people ask I’m going to tell them how fun it was.”