Football greats make play for patients at Gaylord Hospital in Wallingford

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WALLINGFORD-- For football fans it's a big weekend ahead as the NFL playoffs move forward, and locally it's time for the annual Walter Camp Foundation weekend.

Every January, football stars from the past, present and future descend on New Haven to celebrate Walter Camp weekend and the brotherhood of the game.

On Friday some gridiron greats took a detour from the pageantry and pizazz of the football events to visit patients rehabbing at Gaylord Hospital.

"This is a wonderful pick me up and right before the Super Bowl so people are in the football spirit," said Tara Knapp, the vice president of development at Gaylord Hospital.

As the patients were working out in the hospital's main gym, in came football stars from pro and college teams, such as Tommie Frazier, a Nebraska Huskers legend and Heisman Trophy runner-up.

"You walk into a place like this and put smiles on people's faces and give them hope," Frazier said.

Sporting his New York Giants shirt, Kevin Shepard from Sandy Hook is recovering from a bad fall that resulted in his back breaking two months ago.

Shepard, who is making progress in his workouts, said, "Look at this place, everyone is down here and chatting -- I wore my (Giants) shirt just for today."

Former Los Angeles and St. Louis Rams star Todd Lyght was also among the six players visiting the hospital. Lyght, who won the Super Bowl with the St. Louis Rams, said, "For us to give back to the community in any way is always very easy for us."

This was the 10th year the Walter Camp Foundation brought players to visit Gaylord Hospital.

Knapp added, "It's great therapy, it's great for the mind, body, and spirit."

The Walter Camp weekend, which takes place at the Floyd Little Athletic Center in New Haven, gives kids an opportunity to get tips and play some football with some of the greats. And those All-Americans and NFL stars are usually willing to sign some autographs too!