Gary Guyton’s Sports Festival events schedule
Friday, March 12, at Bradwell Institute
• 7 p.m.: Amazing race event
Similar to the popular television show, the race features a 1.5-mile course with pit stops.
Saturday, March 13, at Bradwell Institute
• 10 a.m.: Free football and cheer camps
• 2 p.m.: Free basketball, golf and dance camps
• 6 p.m.: Student 3-point shooting contest.• 7 p.m.: NFL vs. area teachers/coaches basketball game
Registration fees and applications are accepted on a first-come basis and are available online at www.garyguyton.com
Enrollment is limited. Awards will be given to kids who make the honor roll. Participants will have opportunities to get autographs and take pictures with the celebrities. For more information, go to www.GaryGuyton.com. Sponsorship opportunities are also available.
Last year, as an rookie linebacker for the New England Patriots, Gary Guyton had two official starts and played in 14 games. This season, the former Bradwell Institute Tiger started all 16 games, including a playoff match against the Ravens.
Although the Ravens knocked the Pats out of the playoffs, Guyton said his second season was enjoyable, but still a learning experience.
"I’m still learning the game, each year I’m still learning," he said. "Some of the things I had seen before, but I still work hard at what I do. I was more comfortable, but I’m still learning the game of football. Every year I look forward to learning more about the game."
According to stats posted on the Patriots’ Web site, Guyton finished second on the team with 91 tackles, led the squad in tackles in three games and tallied a single-game, career-high 13 tackles against the Jets in New York. Guyton also made his first sack this season against the Bills.
In fact, Guyton’s impressive performances have made headlines and generated buzz. Reporters from the Boston Globe and Boston Herald reported that Patriots coach Bill Belichick said he should have drafted Guyton instead of Bo Ruud.
Guyton was signed as a free agent in 2008 after he was overlooked at the NFL draft.
"I wasn’t drafted so it was something I had to deal with, but it wasn’t something too big for me," Guyton said. "I mean, my main focus [at the time] was to pick up and keep on moving."During the month after the 2008 NFL draft, before he signed with the Patriots, Guyton said his uncle Billy Jones kept his spirits up.
"He just kept encouraging me," the linebacker said. "He would tell me to keep my head up and tell me this doesn’t mean this is my last time playing football. He told me to keep working, and he was just making sure I wasn’t down and that I was doing whatever I could to better myself and be the best I can be. He was really that emotional support group through that time."
Guyton said he took his uncle’s advice and kept working hard to showcase his skills at every opportunity. Before the Patriots picked him up, he was also being scouted by the San Francisco 49ers.
"I was given the opportunity to show my talent and that was something I was looking forward to," he said. "So now I’m looking forward to do the best I can with the opportunity I’ve been given."
Recently, Guyton was honored locally as a Liberty County Sports Hall of Fame inductee. He said he remembers being as young as 6 and wondering what scores and records actually counted for. As an adult, he said he understands the importance and called the experience great.
"These are the things you work hard for," he said. "This is where your hard work and determination is shown and awarded. I’m definitely excited for me and my family."
Now Guyton said it’s his turn to give back to the community that supported him as a Bradwell Tiger, a Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket and now as a New England Patriot.
Guyton is planning his first celebrity sports festival for March 12-13 at Bradwell Institute.
"The kids and youth, they are our future," he said. "It’s all about getting out and having a little fun for the kids — also to come out and speak to them and offer them some encouragement. Maybe they can learn something from us and maybe I can learn something from these kids."
Guyton said he is thinking of making it an annual event.
"It’s something good for us and the community and it’s something I plan to do every year," he said. "And every year it’s going to get better and better."
He promises a good representation of players from the group he knew at Georgia Tech. Many have gone on to play in the NFL for teams like the Cowboys, Colts and Bengals.
"It’s our way of coming out and giving back a little bit," Guyton said.