WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — Magnolia resident Cameron Corbett, 25, formed a unique relationship with the star quarterback and the team the Philadelphia Eagles face in the first round of the playoffs Sunday.
Some of the players on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers follow Corbett on Instagram.
This includes star receiver and former Buc Antonio Brown, who has 6.2 million followers and recently posted a photo of him with Ye, the artist formerly known as Kanye West.
Corbett built a connection with the Buccaneers last summer during training camp when he interned as an athletic trainer.
“I got to watch Tom Brady get better every day,” Corbett said. “I got to watch Delaware’s own Chris Godwin show me that he’s one of the best players to ever come from Delaware. It was surreal.”
GRONK: ‘YO, CAM IS A CELEBRITY!’
The Caesar Rodney High School alum reminisced about the time star tight end Rob Gronkowski stole his phone in the Bucs locker room last summer.
“He said, ‘That’s where I remember you from; you look familiar. You’re Duron’s cousin,’ ” Corbett recalled. He had shown Gronk a photo of himself with his cousin Duron Harmon, who played for the Patriots.
“He took my phone and he ran around the whole locker room. He showed it to O.J. Howard. He showed some of the defensive players. He was like, ‘Yo, Cam is a celebrity!’”
From that point on, Corbett said, he and Gronk jelled.
Gronk’s big-kid persona is as real in person as it is in his TV commercials, Corbett said. During the internship, he didn’t witness the tight end have a negative interaction with any of his teammates, he said.
“He’ll laugh. He’ll smile. He’ll say something to me and keep on going, and I’ll say something back to him and we’ll laugh,” Corbett said.
“He was actually a whole-hearted person. He would talk to me like he cared about me, like he knew me.”
MEETING BRADY, ‘WE ALWAYS CLICKED’
Growing up, Corbett was a fan of Tom Brady. Now he’s a whole air conditioner.
The 25-year-old desperately wanted to prove himself during the internship, and he knew he’d accomplish that by working his tail off and treating the athletes like normal people.
One day he was in the nutrition room with another intern when Brady walked in.
Corbett knew he couldn’t act star-struck.
“(Brady) said, ‘Hey, how are ya’ll doing?’ I said, ‘I’m doing good,’ ” said Corbett, who earned his master’s degree in athletic training from West Chester University in 2021.
He took the opportunity to strike up a conversation with the three-time MVP.
“I said, ‘Hey, you know my relative?’ (Brady) was like, ‘Who’s your relative?’ I said, ‘Duron Harmon’ and he said, ’Oh, Du – I love Du. He said, ‘That’s a real good guy. I love his family. Please tell him I asked for him.’
“Ever since then, we always clicked. Anytime we walked past each other or saw each other, we always clicked.”
Dr. Katherine Morrison, chair of the department of medicine at West Chester University, wasn’t surprised that stars on the Bucs connected with Corbett.
“It makes me smile because that’s exactly what I saw with him. I mean, Cam was just so wonderful,” Morrison said. “When I would go down to the athletic training room, I would see his interaction with the athletes. He just cared. He was present. You can tell his motivation to help them was authentic.”
DURON HARMON CALLS COUSIN ‘HUMBLE’
Now with the Atlanta Falcons, Harmon said his cousin made a good impression in Tampa Bay because he put in the work.
“I think me being teammates with Tom, Gronk and Antonio (Brown) had very little to do with how they felt about Cam,” Harmon said this week, one day after the Falcons’ season ended.
“At the end of the day, when you’re in the National Football League, it’s a business and everything is evaluated: How do you do your job? Do you do your job well? Are you consistent? I think Cameron was doing his job at an extremely high level. When you do that, people are attracted to you.”
He said it doesn’t hurt that his cousin possesses a special quality.
“He also has the personality,” Harmon said. “He’s a very humble being. He works hard. He wants to be great at his craft.”
ANTONIO BROWN ‘DEFINITELY HELPED ME’
With 6.2 million followers on Instagram, Antonio Brown is following only 459 people.
One of them is Corbett.
Brown has been in the news recently, mostly for leaving the field during a game. Corbett said he got to see a different side of Brown.
”(Brown) was a good mentor to me. He definitely helped me, a young Black man from Delaware.”
He said Brown helped him network over the summer with TB12, Tom Brady’s wellness brand. The company has a performance and recovery facility in Tampa.
Corbett received a job offer to be an athletic trainer with TB12 in the fall. He said AB Facetimed him with the news.
He will start after he passes his certification exam and becomes licensed.
BRADY MIGHT BECOME HIS BOSS
During Corbett’s internship with the Bucs, he was assigned to work with the team’s running backs in the scorching Florida heat.
He worked seven days a week and his day began at 5 a.m. and typically wouldn’t end until around 7 p.m. During preseason games, he said, his day might not end until 2 or 3 a.m.
His duties included helping athletes rehab, get warmed up, taped, wrapped and stay hydrated.
In order to stand out, Corbett said, he’d hustle to get equipment and water bottles to players.
One time Brady asked if Corbett could get him another wristband because his got so sweaty that he couldn’t read his playbook.
“It took me not even one minute to run there and come back. I sprinted,” he said. “That’s Tom Brady. I want to stay here, not just fit in.”
Morrison said that kind of determination from Corbett is how he won her over at West Chester.
“I never questioned his work ethic or his motivation,” she said. “He knew how to grind, which, you know, that’s how work is sometimes. It can be a grind. He knew how to do that and never complained. He just brought something to the environment that was positive.”
Corbett said he sends motivational texts and messages to some of the guys before games, just as he does with his three-time Super Bowl-winning cousin, Harmon.
He said hopes he can pass his certification exam as soon as possible so he can work with TB12.
Harmon, who has worked with TB12 during his Patriot days, said Corbett would be in good hands in Tampa. “They did a good job of helping me continue to stay healthy and get on the field and perform at a high level,” Harmon said.
“I’m definitely excited for Cam and it’d be a good starting place for him so that he can continue to learn his craft and master his craft. So that he can be the best athletic trainer that he can be,” his cousin said.
Meanwhile, Corbett said it’s a no-brainer who he’s going to root for when the Bucs play the Eagles in Tampa on Sunday.
“I’m gonna cheer for the Bucs because they employed me (over the summer). And I’ve always been a Tom Brady fan, maybe because of Duron.”
The NFL Wildcard game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be broadcast on FOX at 1 p.m. Sunday.