Making his first visit to Astoria in two years, Jordan Poyer spent the weekend with family, playing some golf, signing autographs and also going through a one-hour workout, just to show fans his daily routine and a little what it’s like to be an NFL safety.
To highlight his stay, Poyer made a special one-night-only appearance in front of his hometown fans, with free admission Monday night at CMH Field.
After the workout and autograph session, Poyer’s message to his fans, young and old, was a little about football, a lot about life.
“This turnout was more than I expected,” he told the gathering. “This is the community that embraced me, and the community where I was out here running in the streets since I was 5 years old.”
And the funds raised through a golf tournament and autograph session: “We sold a jersey yesterday for $10,000. This is absolutely crazy.”
And, Poyer immediately brought forth his message for the night: “It’s OK to ask for help.”
Last spring, Poyer revealed past struggles with alcohol addiction, but announced in March that he was one year sober.
“A lot of you may or may not know my story, going through what I did,” he said. “Alcohol had the best of me. I was going through a lot, no excuse at all. I’m proud I got out of it, and I’ve been sober for a year-and-a-half now.
“I really changed my life with support of my wife and my beautiful daughter. And it’s always a blessing to come back to where I’m from.”
His coach and athletic director at Astoria High School, Howard Rub, said, “He has a message for people of all ages that it’s OK to ask for help. As simple as it is, it’s an important message. And we’re excited that he’s using Astoria and our venue to help talk about it.
“That’s just who he is. He understands the importance of giving back, and he realizes that he had people here looking out for him when he was growing up.”
An alternative to camp
Poyer hosted a golf tournament Sunday at the Astoria Golf & Country Club, where dozens signed up and raised money and raffled off items for Astoria High School in the process.
With the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic, Poyer’s annual one-day summer camp at CMH Field for local youth was canceled for the second straight year, which sparked the idea of a golf tournament and autograph session and workout.
“Since I wasn’t having a camp, it was nice just having everybody come out and see what I’ve been doing every year since high school,” Poyer said. “Let them see the drills I go through on a daily basis, the work I put in … with everything going on in this world, I just wanted to bring the community together.”
The average length of a career for players in the National Football League is just 3.3 years.
Poyer — a seventh-round draft choice in 2013 — is about to triple that number. Buffalo’s starting safety is entering his fifth year with the Bills, and 2021 will mark his ninth overall season in the NFL.
He turned 30 in April, but hasn’t considered when he might retire. In fact, Poyer says the best may be yet to come.
Thoughts about retirement? Not when he’s at the top of his game.
“I still feel healthy and that I can still play this game at a high level,” said Poyer, one of just two players drafted in the seventh round of the 2013 draft still playing in the NFL.
“This is the strongest I’ve ever been, physically and mentally. I’m just at a good place in life right now,” he said. “I want to play until I can’t. I want to win a Super Bowl, and do it with the guys that I’m with now. It’s definitely been a fun ride, but we’re not done yet. The job’s not finished.”
Also watching Monday’s action at CMH Field — and getting all the close-up angles — was a film production crew, filming a documentary on Poyer in association with Avalon Sports Group. Former Oregon Duck and Pittsburgh Steeler Dennis Dixon was throwing the passes, and young fans holding lucky tickets were given the chance to run 40-yard sprints with Poyer.
“They’re doing a documentary on where I’m from, and how I got to where I’m at,” Poyer told Monday’s audience. “I have a website dropping in a couple weeks. My alcohol story will be on that website. One more message that I have, is that it’s OK to ask for help. When I was going through some tough times, I needed to ask for help.”
Said Rub, “It’s nice that Jordan has an opportunity to tell his story, because it’s a unique story. In so many ways it compares to Tom Brady,” a sixth-round draft choice in 2000, and now a seven-time Super Bowl champion.
Poyer’s path has gone from “becoming an all-American at (Oregon State), to a seventh-round draft choice, to making the Eagles, to becoming a star player and a team captain (for the 2020 Bills). His story is incredible,” Rub said, “and his willingness to come back and tell it speaks volumes about who he is.”
Poyer said, “I just want to let kids know that no matter where you’re from, how big or small you are, it all depends on how hard you work,” he said. “Hopefully, they will see a positive light in me, and want to continue to do whatever it is they’d like to do.”