Kamren Curl came back home Friday to give something back.
The former Muskogee Rougher brought a burgundy and gold jersey with the number 31 on it, put his autograph on it, and the No Speed Limit youth track club run by Muskogee coaches Don and Ron Mayes had an item to auction off.
“For sure I want to give back,” said Curl, the Washington Football Team’s rookie strong safety who defied early expectations with an outstanding first year, as he prepared to speak to a group of about 30 kids at Indian Bowl.
He was second on the team in tackles, recorded a interception for a touchdown in one contest, and helped the team formerly known as the Redskins to an NFC Eastern Division championship. Washington lost to Tom Brady and the eventual Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the wildcard round.
“It was a great year,” Curl said. “A pick-six as a defensive player, that’s rare anyway, and for it to happen as a rookie was pretty cool. And then to make the playoffs as a rookie, that to me was the highlight.”
For the year he had 88 tackles, 63 solo, three interceptions, two sacks and four passes defended.
Curl played sparingly over the first part of the season and took over the strong safety spot after veteran Landon Collins went down with a season-ending injury in late October. Curl started every game after that.
Collins’ return puts a question mark on the secondary situation with off-season meetings soon to be in full force and training camp just a little over two months away.
“I mean, it’s all out of my control,” Curl said. “If they keep me at safety, they keep me at safety. It’s all about what the coaches decide, but whatever they do, I’m going out there to give 100 percent.”
The 2020 campaign wasn’t a normal NFL season. COVID-19 put a limit on fans at games. Washington prohibited fans all season in home games, so the electricity of a crowd on Sundays wasn’t there.
“I think it was a good thing for me,” Curl said. “It helped me focus all on football, but it was weird not having fans at the games.”
The limits on team activities and the impact of the shutdown of various parts of life also was an adjustment. During Curl’s three years at Arkansas, life was structured where free time was rare between classes, study halls, team meetings and practice or games.
It made for a different overall experience as a first-year pro.
“In school there’s really not any free time. In the pros, when you come home from practice, you have that time to figure out,” he said. “Me, I really like football so I studied film, even after practice.”
Eating, sleeping and drinking football for Curl comes from a drive to exceed expectations, which helped him have the kind of rookie year he did, rising from sleeper status in the draft.
As life returns to normal, he’ll see more fully what life is like being on a pro team.
“It wasn’t a regular NFL season, so I didn’t get to experience everything fully,” he said. “So, nothing that happened surprised me, given the circumstances.”
He did get some road games in front of fans, including the Thanksgiving Day game against Dallas in which his parents and sisters were able to attend. Because of team rules pertaining to COVID, he couldn’t make full connection with them.
“That was pretty special though,” he said.
His rookie contract was life-changing. His first purchase was a Mercedes, which he soon gave to his older sister. He then purchased a Jeep Trackhawk.
But nothing else with splash.
“I’ll wait for my next contract,” he said.