Eagles players surprise youth football team, cheerleaders after shooting near rec center

The Shepard Rec Center was the scene of a horrific shooting in August that left five people injured.

Sharifa Jackson Image
Wednesday, October 5, 2022
Eagles players surprise football team, cheerleaders at rec center
While the Philadelphia Eagles had the day off, some players took time to give back and surprise students and parents.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- While the Philadelphia Eagles had the day off, some players took time to give back and surprise students and parents.

Eagles wide receiver A.J. Brown and running back Miles Sanders, along with Swoop and the team's cheerleaders, visited young football players at the Shepard Recreation Center.

That rec center was the scene of a horrific shooting in August that left five people injured. Investigators say nearly 100 shots were fired.

SEE ALSO: Police ID 3 suspects charged in shooting outside West Philly rec center; 5 injured

"Coming back here like this, it's about resilience. It's about capitalizing off of resilience. It's good to hear from guys who have been there, lived there, did that and escaped it," said Valencia Peterson, the executive director of Open Door Abuse Awareness & Prevention Inc.

The lesson to the young football players in West Philadelphia is you can be more than your environment.

SEE ALSO: Football players and cheerleaders return to Philadelphia rec center after quintuple shooting

A.J. Brown says he and other players came to support the team. He also shared testimony of losing friends and family to gun violence and prison.

Sanders shared a similar story and his push to not be a statistic.

"To see the Eagles come down into the community, especially this section of the city where they don't usually get to see people of this magnitude, it was really a blessing," said Sheila Armstrong, a mother of one of the players. "It shows the players can relate to who they are because they grew up in the same environment that we see."

The players also stayed for a photo session and Q&A with the young players.

The event was part of the 2022 Eagles Care Community Tuesday initiative and the team's mission to grow the game of football at the youth level.