Rayam, Goode teach players, coaches

Published 5:16 pm Saturday, July 12, 2008

Thomas Rayam says he wasn’t even supposed to block the kick, but that hardly matters now.

What matters is that Rayam, whose job it was to tie up blockers so a teammate could get through the line, did block Penn State’s field goal attempt on Oct. 28, 1989 to preserve a 17-16 Alabama win at Beaver Stadium and that people still remember the play, which is probably the most famous of a career that included two NFL seasons.

“I never knew that play would be around all these years,” Rayam said at the Thomas Rayam Football Camp at Chilton County High’s Tiger Stadium on Saturday. “I went to Canada for 10 years, and, when I got back, people still asked me about it.”

A photograph of the block was recently auctioned off for $1,900, money raised to help former teammate Siran Stacy after five of his family members were killed in an automobile wreck.

Rayam also uses his fame and football knowledge to help children through his camp. The one here Saturday, which was sponsored by the Clanton Tiger Blue youth football league, was the first of two this summer. Rayam said a second will be held at Kingwood Christian School in Alabaster.

Former Alabama player Pierre Goode and track coach Paul Anderton also instructed players.

Rayam said the most important part of his work is to lay down fundamentals that will help camp participants all the way through their football careers.

The instruction might be just as important for the coaches that attend. Mike Smitherman, Clanton Tiger Blue president, said the camp turned out better than he could have imagined.

“You watch TV all the time and say, ‘OK, this is how you do it,’ and develop some bad habits,” Smitherman said about his coaching techniques. “They came down and taught us the proper way.”

There’s also the possibility that young football players might be a little more inclined to pay attention to a former NFL player.

“When you learn something from Thomas Rayam or Pierre Goode, you’re going to remember that,” Smitherman said.

Even after spending all day in 90-degree heat trying to teach 35 5- to 13-year-olds the fundamentals of football (“It’s a lot of work,” Rayam said.), the camp’s namesake and signed autographs.

After all, even if none of the kids were old enough to remember Rayam’s play, their dads probably do.