GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — Ron Jaworski kicked off the afternoon session of his Celebrity Golf Challenge on Monday by splitting the fairway with a 250-yard drive on the first hole at Blue Heron Pines Golf Club.
A few bystanders and his playing partners responded with “oohs” and “aahs” while he picked up his tee.
“Why are you all so surprised?” he said with a laugh.(tncms-asset)3b2ec354-4aaf-11e7-8065-00163ec2aa77(/tncms-asset)
Jokes and banter are as much a part of the atmosphere as the golf at the tournament, which has been in existence for 33 years.
More 30 former NFL players joined several NHL alumni, former NBA standout Latrell Sprewell and media celebrities at a tournament that also featured a pairings party Sunday night at Harrah’s Atlantic City.
Ex-quarterback Michael Vick was the only no-show.(tncms-asset)4ea19db8-05d5-11e7-b4cc-00163ec2aa77(/tncms-asset)
“I’m here because of my guy, ‘Ronnie J’ (Jaworski),” said former NFL defensive back and head coach Herm Edwards. “He’s been my guy for a long time. We actually came to the Eagles together. I was a rookie in 1977 when he came over from the Rams (in a trade).”
Jaworski started his celebrity tournament in 1984 at the Eagles Nest golf course in Deptford Township. It quickly grew in popularity and was eventually moved to Atlantic City Country Club in Northfield.
It stayed there for more than 25 years before moving three years ago to Blue Heron, which Jaworski owns.
Since its inception, the tournament and celebrity auction have raised more than $5 million to benefit youth charities in the Philadelphia area and South Jersey as part of the Jaws Youth Playbook. It also donates money to help NFL Alumni, an organization that aids former players who have struggled to adjust to life after their careers ended.(tncms-asset)7f760fb4-3a78-11e7-9470-00163ec2aa77(/tncms-asset)
Jaworski and Edwards were joined by former NFL players such as wide receivers Santonio Holmes and Donte Stallworth, tight end Kellen Winslow and linebacker Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson.
Henderson, a former Dallas Cowboy, was making his first appearance at the tournament. He wasted little time in stirring up the Eagles-Cowboys rivalry.
“I wore an all-Cowboys outfit to the party Sunday,” Henderson said with a laugh. “Herm Edwards tried to rip off my T-shirt.”
Henderson was performing double duty Monday.
Besides playing golf, he exchanged texts with a woman in Texas who was trying to get help for her drug-addicted daughter. A former crack addict, Henderson, 64, said he’s been clean since Nov. 8, 1983 and spends his time and money helping others deal with addictions.
He still has quite a bit of money. Henderson won $28 million in the Texas Lottery in 2000 — he said he took the cash option and wound up with $9 million after taxes — then won $50,000 in the lottery a few years later.(tncms-asset)2a22c1e2-39ce-11e7-bb34-00163ec2aa77(/tncms-asset)
“When I was on crack, I had 1,400 bad days in a row,” Henderson said. “Since I’ve been sober, every day has been a good day.”