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Campbell remembers the Titans

Former prep football star emphasizes education at annual dinner

Former prep football star emphasizes education at annual dinner

April 25, 2008|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

Sunshine did not kiss Gary.

No one danced on the field.

And it wasn't a close game.

These were a few of the things about the movie "Remember the Titans" that Julius Campbell wanted to clear up Thursday night during his speech at the annual Steak & Burger Dinner to benefit the Boys and Girls Club of Washington County.

Campbell, the star defensive end who was portrayed in the movie by actor Wood Harris, said his team beat Andrew Lewis High (not Marshall) in the final game, and they won by a score of 28-0.

"Disney wanted to make it suspenseful, I guess," Campbell said. "No one wants to watch someone get beat 28-0."

During his half-hour talk at the Four Points Sheraton on Dual Highway in Hagerstown, Campbell focused on the importance of education, noting that his "casual" attitude toward academics in high school "probably derailed my football career."

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After leaving T.C. Williams, Campbell was highly recruited and wanted to go to Ohio State but said he could not pass his SATs.

Instead, he played football at Ferrum Junior College, where a bad ankle injury ended his football career.

"Get your study habits together now," he said to the children in the 300-plus audience. "I don't care how great an athlete you are. If your grades don't come up to par, the (recruiters) won't even know you're there."

Campbell said he gives two or three talks a month around the country.

The release of the movie, which focused on the year T.C. Williams High was racially integrated, has given Campbell an opportunity, he said, to talk to children across the country about the importance of making good decisions.

He said while in high school he was actively recruited by the Black Panthers, but his desire to play football kept him from joining the group.

"I was not willing to give up football for racism," Campbell said.

Instead, he forged a relationship with white teammate Gary Bertier that started rough but lasted until the day Bertier died.

"He was white. I was black. But that was the only thing that was different," Campbell said.

Thursday's event was the Boys and Girls Club's biggest fundraiser of the year, bringing in about $45,000 for the group, Director of Operations Buck Browning said.

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