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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A high school football player with Down syndrome is being offered the chance of a lifetime.

Brett Bowden has led the Hobbton Wildcats onto the field religiously for two seasons, even scoring a touchdown in a game. But on Friday night, his helmet sits on a bench and his shoulder pads are put away.

“That’s all he knows,” said Pat Bowden, Brett’s mother. “That’s all he’s ever done. And to take that away? It’s different. It’s like he’s not a player anymore.”

Bowden will be a junior this year at Hobbton High School in Sampson County , but he will not be able to play this season, because at 19, he is too old.

James terry, coach of the arena football team, the Reno Barons, saw Bowden’s story online. He says it really upset him and wants to give Bowden a chance to be a part of his team.

“The only qualifications in pro football is that you are 18 years of age or older,” Reno Baron head coach James Terry said. “We’re going to sign him. We’ll sign him to a pro football, professional football contract to play at our level which is about AAA.”

The Sampson County School District announced yesterday Brett can still dress out and lead the team onto the field, but he will not be allowed to play.

Terry says he wants to give Brett a chance to be a part of his team.

“I have a real opportunity here in the position that I am in football to help somebody who loves the game as much as I do, to really help a family and a young man who can get more from this than I ever did,” Terry said. “I played professionally and collegiately, and I envy this kid, because I think he gets more out of being part of this team than any of us could possibly imagine.”

Pat Bowden says she could not believe terry’s offer.

“To even offer that from a little town that we’re from, just a little tiny hole,” said Pat Bowden. “I mean words can’t describe it.”

Brett’s story has garnered some major attention. A Facebook page that his sister helped organize now has more than 60,000 fans. However, Brett doesn’t seem to care about the attention. He wants nothing more than to be a Wildcat.

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33 Comments on "ONLY ON 3: Pro football coach wants special athlete on his team"

Dan C
2015 years 10 months ago

I met Jim when we were in High School He always stood out in the crowed. He was always a positive influence on me and most people he met. Keep up the good work Jim . Dan.

Mike Huey
2015 years 10 months ago

I have known Jim since he was a child. He has done more good for more people than anyone will ever know.

2015 years 10 months ago

This is such a sweet story. I hope he can go with the pro team at some point but I would like to see him finish high school. Also, I would like to say that the rest of his high school football team obviously considers him one of the team and I think they are a great group of young men to include him. This is just a feel good story all around. Have a wonderful season!!

Tony Carlicemo
2015 years 10 months ago

Thanks Jim for all the help you gave my son three years ago jhe is entering his senior year at college and will get his BSBA. I cannot help but think how much you were a part of his success of and on he field. Regards Tony C

2015 years 10 months ago

A coach with unique perspective and courage,caring.
A good coach can elevate any player to “their” next level.
Not about winning but improving,trying and Life needed skills of determination and perseverance.


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