Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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July 15, 2012

Bradshaw signs in

Super Bowl RB talks about future

PRINCETON — Ahmad Bradshaw was thinking ahead on Sunday.

The two-time Super Bowl champion and Bluefield native talked about what motivated him to return to the area for a “signing event,” and what he sees as his role and those of other running backs on the roster of the world champion New York Giants.

Dozens of people waited in line to pay $20 and up to have Bradshaw sign a memento on a warm Sunday afternoon at the McDonald’s on Stafford Drive in Princeton.

The Graham High School and Marshall University alumnus said the event was “to give everybody the opportunity, around this community, to come out and meet me. ... McDonald’s gave me this opportunity to come out, and I’m just blessed to have it.”

Some of the proceeds will help him conduct football camps for children “hopefully for the rest of my life,” he said. “I would like to have a camp here ... just so the kids can come out and be able to learn the game of football, and just to have fun and hang together and be together.”

He did not conduct a camp last year because of the NFL lockout, he said, and this year his schedule could not be worked out. “It was just the time,” he said.

Those camps could take place in the local area, and a much larger metropolis as well.

Bradshaw said, “The plan is to take it a little bit of everywhere. I would love to do it up in New York; a lot of the guys are doing it up in New York, also.

“But first off, my main focus is to do it here. This is the community that raised me and took care of me, and I just want to give back as much as I can. I haven’t been able to do as much as I could around here — like I say, it’s all with the timing.”

“But I’ve still got a long life to live, and I’ve got kids, too, so I’ve got to take care of my [family] and then take care of everything else.”

A small group of Bradshaw’s associates was set up in a dining area of the restaurant on Sunday, seeing to it that the money was taken care of.

Why Princeton?

“[I] wanted to put it in a kind of neutral spot, so a lot of people in different areas can come out,” he said. “We’ll have it, next time, maybe in a different area.”

“This is just the start of a lot of different things. I just want to have fun with it, and like I say, to give back.”

The personal appearance schedule for a starter on a Super Bowl championship team is “hectic,” he said. “You’re in demand, everywhere — especially when you win the Super Bowl. But it’s a blessing ... .”

“Winning the Super Bowl this year has set back a lot of things ... things I’m just trying to get done in the off-season, to prepare for the next season. [There are] just a lot of things I got to do before the season starts.”

The next step will be to report to the Giants’ preseason training camp on July 26. He said, “It comes around so quick. And when you’re in the Super Bowl, it comes around super-quick.”

“We go in next week, on Thursday the 26th, and I don’t get a break after that. It’s tough. I get one day out of a week during the season, which is Tuesday, and that day I’m just trying to take care of my body and get back healthy for the next week.”

This summer, he goes in No. 1 on the depth chart at running back, now that Brandon Jacobs has ended his seven-year tenure with the Giants and moved on to San Francisco.

Bradshaw had nothing but good things to say about his former teammate, who acted as a mentor for the young pro when Bradshaw joined the team as a seventh-round draft pick in 2007.

“It’s been a blessing to have Brandon Jacobs with me,” Bradshaw said. “As a Giant, he’s taught me a lot in the football game. He’s taught me a lot in life, outside of football. ... And then last year, I actually took the starting position, but we kind of shared the role.”

“This year, being the premier back, it’s just something you dream of. I feel like ... I’m able to put the team on my back, at times. It’s just that feeling you get as the premier back, man. It’s something that you always want to be, when you’re younger. And it’s something you always want to be when you’re a pro.”

Now he’s the one looking at younger running backs reporting into camp.

“We have a lot of good backs,” he said. “We picked up David Wilson, from Virginia Tech. He’s going to be a great asset to our team.”

With the younger players, Bradshaw said, “They all help. Just like last year, we had Henry Hynoski from Pittsburgh. He came in as a rookie, played all year, and took us to a Super Bowl. You can’t complain about that.”

“Young guys help out a lot. Even if they’re not impact [players] this year, they can be practice guys — you know, just to be able to help.”

He said he remembers what it’s like “starting from the bottom, and just having to prove yourself. As a seventh-round pick, for me coming in, I just wanted to get in and prove myself, prove I was worth more, and show the coaches how they can depend on me.”

“And give ’em a reason to put me on that football field.”

He served a sometimes up-and-down apprenticeship under the Giants’ intense head coach, Tom Coughlin, who will be 66 when the NFL season starts. Bradshaw placed himself squarely in the crotchety coach’s corner.

“I love Tom Coughlin as a coach,” Bradshaw said. “He’s one of my best guys on the team. He looks after me, and he has ever since I’ve been a rookie. The way I play, I do it not only for the Giants, but for Tom, because he’s a great influence in my life.”

He was asked about Coughlin’s tough image.

Bradshaw said, “He looks that way. I don’t think he’s that tough. He comes off to everybody that way, but he’s kind of lightened up since my rookie year, since we won the first Super Bowl. So we’ll see what he does after this one.”

“But I don’t want him to lighten up. I want him to stay tough on us. And hopefully, we can keep winning.”

When he hangs up the cleats, Bradshaw said he is looking to make his home in the local area.

“I always want to have my place here. I love coming home. I love being back home,” he said. “It’s just like a lot off my shoulders. It humbles me, man. Shows you where you’ve come from. Shows you where you started. Shows you what you’ve worked hard for.”

— Contact Tom Bone at

tbone@bdtonline.com

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