Toms River’s Keith Elias Talks Giants Super Bowl and Heroes
As Giants fever sweeps our area in anticipation of Super Bowl XLVI, former New York Giants running back and local football ’hero’ Keith Elias took some time to talk Super Bowl and share some insight on “Heroes and Cool Kids”, a not-for-profit organization based in New Jersey that utilizes the services of current and former professional athletes whose personal life experiences enable them to train high school student leaders.
“I got a call from former New York Jets’ Bruce Harper on my way home after my last game in Indianapolis,” Elias said “He told me about the program and I said ‘Yes’.” Heroes and Cool Kids helps high school students in New Jersey build important traits like character and integrity. In the program, which many local school districts in the area participate, high school students share their experiences of growing up with local sixth graders. The goal of the program is to encourage the younger students to make the right choices in life as they go from elementary school and embark on a path into the higher grades.
“These students learn to assess their values and feel a real sense of accountability.” Harper says.
In February, Elias will be taking one such group consisting of local Ocean County area high school students, including students from Jackson Memorial and Jackson Liberty High School on February 15th through Vonations, a community charity group managed by Vonage, Inc. in Holmdel, N.J.
Upon completion of course training, high school students are given the title “Hero” and they go on to mentor middle school students, they call “Cool Kids”. The kids learn that “Playing it straight can be cool too.”, according to Harper.
The program teaches the high school students and athletes that they are role models for the younger kids. Whether they are part of a sports team or not, they know younger kids look up to them. Harper says the program has been proven to be beneficial in schools and local communities. Elias, of Toms River, is one of those former professional athletes who spend their time teaching the program to the high school kids, who must complete three conferences to become “Heroes”.
In our March issue, we’ll sit down and talk to Elias about the program and his own experiences both on and off the field, but this month, with Super Bowl XLVI around the corner, we wanted to start with a conversation about what’s on everybody’s mind. “Who is going to win the Super Bowl?”
Elias aid he was looking forward to the Giants’ return to the Super Bowl and even picked his former team to win it.
“I’m fairly confident in the Giants because I think in a matchup against the Patriots, anything can happen.”
Elias, whose career ended in 1999 after playing 5 seasons in the NFL, split between the Giants and the Indianapolis Colts. “If the Giants can limit turnovers, anything can happen, but we’ve seen what turnovers can do this year to a team in the playoffs.” he said “The Giants biggest advantage is their defense, they have a high skilled and strong willed defense. The Patriots can’t throw the ball if (Tom Brady) is always on his back.”
The Patriots’ short crossing routes might cause a problem for the Giants according to Elias, it has been the key to their success, but he says it also depends on how New England handles the almost unstoppable Victor Cruz. “This is the most talented core group of receivers the Giants have ever had.” Elias said “They never had such a good set of receivers.” If the Giants get an early edge up on the Patriots, he says the flexibility of Pats coach Bill Belichick is nothing to over look. “Belichick is great at coming up with new ways to do things when he has to. That’s why they’re in the Super Bowl.” Elias noted. In the end, Keith Elias says he feels good about a Giants win, in fact claims he called the Giants win over Green Bay two weeks ago and was not surprised like the rest of American when the Giants beat the 15-1 Packers in the playoffs.
Photo Courtesy Keith Elias