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Pay it Forward: The Inner-City Classic

Author Jim Gehman
Date Published Jul 14, 2017

by Jim Gehman

Buggs, who has been doing programs for Atlanta’s inner-city for over 40 years, has also had the opportunity to speak at several college football bowl games. That led to the idea of creating the Inner-City Classic in Atlanta.

“I thought that it’d be great if I started a game that (high school) student-athletes could experience and get exposed to a bowl-like atmosphere,” Buggs said. “And not only that, give a contribution to their booster club that they couldn’t just go out and get overnight without selling candy and barbeque sandwiches and all that. Just try to give them some cushion to do scholarships for seniors or have a pregame meal or something like that.

“We try to match the teams that will bring the most fans, something that the fans would get a joy out of seeing two tough teams. We get anywhere from 7,000 to 9,000. This is probably the biggest game of the year for these schools.”

The 6th annual Inner-City Classic will be held on August 26 at Westlake Stadium in Atlanta. And while each of the winners will be presented a trophy, hats, and t-shirts,it’s more than just a game.

“(The evening before the game) we have a dinner banquet where the guys come dressed up in shirts and ties. We have a red carpet where we take team pictures, coaches’ pictures. It’s just a fun night,” Buggs said.

“We have a speaker and we talk about the occasion and about things that are happening in the community. And the speaker usually challenges the young people who are there to when they go to college or they go to a trade school to always give back to your community. Don’t ever forget where you came from. We don’t want a year to pass by that we don’t challenge these young ladies and men to be community service orientated.”

A member of Atlanta’s NFLPA Alumni chapter for over 25 years, Buggs appreciates the grant that PAF provides for the Inner-City Classic.

“It means a great deal not only to the Classic, but to me being an alumni that has been on the firing line of the NFL,” Buggs said. “And being for us to have an organization that prides itself on giving to worthwhile and meaningful organizations that’s giving back, it means a great deal.”

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