Robert Jackson, H.D. Woodson's 6-foot-7, 330-pound right tackle, was sitting in a corner staring at Jim Kelly, Marv Levy, Elliott Gould and many other celebrities. These athletes and stars had come to participate in the Touchdown Club's 56th Annual "Timmie" Awards last night at the Sheraton-Washington Hotel.
"This feels incredible," said Jackson, who was selected as the club's Washington high school player of the year. "Being in the same room with these people, well, it really blows me away." Moments later Jackson was having his picture taken with Gould. "This is something you only dream about," said Jackson.
That seemed to be the consensus of most of the local athletes who were honored last night. Leonard Green, Springbrook's running back who was chosen Maryland high school player of the year, said, "I never thought I'd be as close to people like Jim Kelly and Marv Levy as I am."
Green said his workouts during the offseason last year paid dividends this year as Springbrook advanced to the Maryland State Class 4A semifinals, before losing to Wootton. "Because I worked so hard I knew some good things would happen," said Green. "But this is overwhelming. I had set a goal to try to become a Washington Post All-Met player. I was really happy when I achieved that goal. But I didn't think all this would ever happen."
The "Timmie" Awards originated in 1935, the same year as the founding of the Touchdown Club by Arthur J. "Dutch" Bergman.
Although there were plenty of celebrities to rub elbows with, Kelly and Levy seemed to be the most popular. Kelly, who was honored as the NFL player of the year, advised the upcoming stars to "enjoy it while it's here. There are so many great athletes across the country. So to get to where I am, just remember it takes a lot of hard work and preparation."
Kelly's coach, Levy, said he would not be giving any advice because "you've got to get off of your soapbox sometime. I spent the entire season yelling and lecturing to my players. So it's time to stop teaching now and just relax."
Another coach honored was Phil Martin of Montgomery-Rockville who was chosen the national junior college coach of the year. Martin stood with his quarterback, John Kaleo, who was chosen junior college quarterback of the year.
"This is an honor you never think you'll attain," said Martin, whose team went undefeated in the regular season before losing to Coffeyville of Kansas in the JUCO national championship. "Being able to play for a national title is something we're always striving for. So this was an unbelievable feat."