When he heard Anne Moore’s screams for help, Leonard Pope didn’t hesitate. Moore’s 6-year-old son, Bryson, fell into the deep end of a swimming pool during a cousin’s birthday party in Americus, Georgia. last weekend. Pope, a backup tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs, leapt into action. He ran outside from inside the house and jumped, fully clothed, into the pool.
“I couldn’t see Bryson anymore,” Pope said. “All I saw was his fingertips at the top of the water,” he said in an interview with ESPN’s Reischea Canidate.
“My hands reached to his waist, and I kind of brought him up to his mom. He stood up and was delirious for a little while.” After some pats on the back and some coughs, the child recovered. As Pope put it, “He came back to Bryson that day.”
The rescue came when Pope, along with other NFL players, would usually be at a minicamp in preparation for next season. However, due to the current lockout, Pope was at a party with his family at the house and was able to hop in and scoop Bryson up. His presence was a godsend for Bryson’s mother, as she told the Americus Times Recorder that Pope might have been the only person at the party who knew how to swim.
“My heart dropped. It could’ve been any child, not just Bryson. I wasn’t waiting on anyone else… to try to pull him out,” Pope said. Nicknamed “Champ,” the Georgia native certainly earned it in the Moores’ eyes.
Pope spent three seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, making 23 catches for 238 yards and five touchdowns in his best year in the Valley in 2007.
This incredible rescue makes it clear just how important pool safety and swimming lessons are, especially during the hot months of summer. Check out a list of Valley aquatics programs, and read these tips for pool safety. Be prepared — despite the lockout, NFL athletes won’t be available at every poolside gathering. — Robert T. Balint