Current or former NFL players from Clatsop County? It’s a short list.
Seaside’s Ben Archibald, Dusty McGrorty from Warrenton, and Astoria’s Jordan Poyer. Over the last 15 years, that’s it.
Before that, you have to go back to Ken Carpenter, a running back from Seaside who played with Cleveland and Denver from 1950-60, and Del Bjork, a former Astoria Fisherman who spent two years (1937-38) as a lineman with the Chicago Bears.
But, dreams do occasionally come true.
That was just one message that Jordan Poyer had for kids last weekend.
At his fifth annual offseason football camp in Astoria, Poyer had lots of advice for a couple of hundred youngsters, who spent a few hours Saturday at CMH Field learning football and the importance of team sports, showing off their skills, and just hangin’ with Jordan.
He’s an idol of just about every kid in Clatsop County, most of whom by now have a Jordan Poyer-autographed photo.
So, when Poyer talks, they listen. As they did Saturday.
In addition to taking questions from the kids, signing autographs and posing for pictures, the former Fisherman and current safety for the Buffalo Bills had several messages for the young players, most of them from Clatsop County.
“I just try to give them some hope, and let them know that I was one of them at some point, too,” said Poyer, the driving force behind Astoria state championships in football and baseball his senior year.
“Everybody’s got dreams. All these kids have dreams of whatever they want to do,” he said. “I want to tell them that no matter where they’re from, no matter what circumstances you go through, this could be something you’re doing one day, bringing kids to your own camp.
“Astoria’s a little more on the map, as least that’s how I feel since I graduated,” added Poyer, now a husband and father, with a home in Florida. “But it’s a small town, and a lot of kids may not think they have the opportunity to do what they want to do when they leave or graduate. It’s important to show them that it’s possible to be from here, and do what you want to do and enjoy life. I’m just hoping to be a role model for them.”
Since graduating from Astoria High School in 2009, athletics has taken Poyer places where most small-town kids can only dream of.
He played baseball and was an All-American in football at Oregon State, a late-round draft choice by the Florida Marlins in baseball and a seventh-round draft choice of the Philadelphia Eagles.
He went the football route, playing for the Cleveland Browns from 2013-16 before signing with the Bills in 2017.
And every visit to Astoria is like a flashback for Poyer.
“It doesn’t seem like it, but in 10 years it’s amazing how much the community’s grown,” he said.
“I drove past the old stadium (John Warren Field, now home to the CMH-OHSU Knight Cancer Institute) today. It was a little sad that the field’s gone, but it’s a great park they have here,” he said of CMH Field.
Astoria’s 2008 state championship football team was tough enough to slow down when they were playing in the mud at John Warren. If the ‘08 Fishermen had played at CMH Field, Poyer said, “I think we would have had the crowd rockin’.”
And even though he plays on the other side of the country now, Astoria is never far from his thoughts.
“The trip back, and even when I’m back in training camp, I think about Astoria,” said Poyer, who also spent time in Ilwaco. “When I’m here, it’s kind of surreal, going past the old house I grew up in, and being in the city and seeing all the places I went when I was a kid.
“It’s cool to see how much the community has grown, and doing what I can to give back to the community.”
As for the upcoming NFL season, Poyer and at least some football experts are expecting big things from the 2019 Buffalo Bills.
“Just going through OTAs (spring camp), it’s nice to see how good we’ve gotten as a team,” Poyer said. “Predictions are what they are, but this season could definitely be very exciting. We just have to approach it one day at a time. We know we’re a good team, and with training camp coming up in a month, we hope to get even better.”
Heading into his second season as the Bills’ quarterback, Josh Allen “has some new weapons,” said Poyer, who got a good look at the Buffalo offense in the recent spring camp.
Receivers “Cole Beasley, John Brown … we have Zay (Jones) coming back, and a new revamped offensive line, so he’s got some weapons and some guys to protect him,” Poyer said. “I know they’re going to come up with a good game plan each week. If we can get the defense to do what we need to, and do our job, the offense will take care of their side of the ball.”
And a kid from Astoria may be playing on an even bigger stage in January.