Mantua: Football Player and Role Model

Zamir Cobb reflected on his experiences working with children.
Zamir Cobb reflected on his experiences working with children.

Working for a community center in Mantua is a long way from the pro-football career Zamir Cobb once had. However, in many ways, Cobb’s current career is very close to the care he provided as child for his many siblings.

With humble beginnings and a football dream from the start, Cobb knew that he was going to pursue a career in football. Cobb grew up in Washington D.C. and starting playing football at community recreation center located near his home. For Cobb, playing football was a way to rise above in his neighborhood.

“I learned early on to take sports very seriously,” Cobb said.

Cobb took on lessons of responsibility from a young age, as he took care of some of his younger siblings. Coming from a big family of nine siblings, he knew that when he went to college it would be imperative to remain focused.

“College was work for me. I went to one college party my freshman year and that was it,” Cobb explained. Cobb was attracted to Philadelphia’s Temple University for the programs offered, the campus, Bobby Wallace who was then Temple’s head football coach and the quick travel back to his hometown.

Cobb started making big decisions early on his college career when he married his fiancée at the end of his sophomore year at Temple.  Cobb and his wife both majored in social work. Cobb knew that he wanted a career in social services but he also knew that he wanted a successful football career.

Children start their day at the West Philadelphia Boys and Girls Club in Mantua.

He stayed busy at Temple balancing football, internships and a full class load. In 2004 he temporarily left Temple to pursue his football career when he went to train for the NFL Draft and was signed as a rookie free agent to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Cobb later broke his leg and was cut from the Steelers.

“My broken leg had a significant impact on my athletic career,” Cobb explained.

Cobb then played for the Arizona Cardinals until tearing his meniscus twice requiring sidelining surgery. He returned to Philadelphia and on the NFL off-season he completed his degree at Temple graduating in 2006. Cobb worked for the Adolescent Violence Reduction Partnership (AVRP) until receiving the call offering him to play arena football in New Orleans.

He moved to New Orleans and played for a few months before returning back to Philadelphia. It was at that point when Cobb came to the realization that the football chapter in his life was coming to a close.  Moving around from city to city pursuing his football dream was becoming a lot on his family.

“We moved around a lot and we all had to constantly make that transition. My wife’s career had to be put on hold while I pursued mine,” Cobb said.

Cobb experienced a lot of difficulties in re-adjusting from having a pro-athlete lifestyle, to not having it.

“I had to do a lot of soul searching to see how my life would be without football,” Cobb explained.

Zamir Cobb explained what it is like to work at the West Philadelphia Community Center

It took Cobb some time to get used things like not playing football on Sundays and not waking up for practice.

Cobb explained that he applies the same work ethic he learned in football to his career now. He is currently the Assistant Center Director for the Caring People Alliance at the West Philadelphia Community Center in Mantua. Here he is able to assist in the learning and development of young children. Cobb’s achievements sets a positive example for the children he works with.

“I think what the kids can learn from me is that no matter what the circumstance is, what situation you find yourself in, how big the wall or how strong the barrier, at some point you’ll get a break and your situation wont always be so hopeless,” Cobb explained.

Zamir Cobb sat closely to work with a group of children.

Robyn Clemmons-Drummond, a parent of two girls at this community center talked highly of Cobb since the time he started working for the program.

“I’ve gotten a chance to speak to him and he is a kindhearted guy that likes his job,” she said. “I always see him working late and doing whatever he can do for the program. That goes for the rest of the staff also. ”

Her praise isn’t just for Cobb but the whole program.

“They value the kids opinions and try to have different programs to involve the kids in. They always get their opinion on how things should be done. It shows me that they really care and that is important,” Clemmons-Drummond said.

One of the benefits for a working mother is walking into the door to pick up her kids and before she can speak a word, she is told where they are. Cobb and the rest of the staff work to make sure that the parents know where they can find their children.

“They are doing something great there. I love walking in the door and not waiting an hour before anyone tells me where I can pick up my daughters,” Clemmons-Drummond said.

Cobb has four children of his own and finds it important to keep his children active. All of his children play sports and have adapted a hard working mentality similar to that of  their father and mother. Cobb’s wife is currently attaining her Master’s degree in Education from Drexel University.

Cobb feels his family works hard as a unit and feels like his life can be a good example to the kids at the West Philadelphia Community Center.


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    Daryl Tilghman

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