Countdown to Kickoff offers fans a chance to mingle with Bulldogs next Saturday

The former Georgia players behind the Countdown to Kickoff fan festival this year are bringing back members of the 2002 Southeastern Conference championship team.

Even if it’s not exactly the 10th anniversary anymore.

“Ten years ago-ish depending on the football calendar,” joked former Georgia offensive lineman Matt Stinchcomb, who started the event with his brother Jon, who also played on the line for the Bulldogs. “A lot of those guys have participated before but this year there will be an emphasis on that team.”

Jon Stinchcomb played offensive tackle on that ’02 team and David Greene was the starting quarterback.

“This is a good excuse for us to get together,” Greene said. “It’s a way that you can raise money for charity, get to see your buddies, have a good time, get to the fans and get to it all at once.”

The Stinchcombs and Greene are again hosting the eighth annual event July 13 at the Woodruff practice fields from noon to 3 p.m. About 1,500 attended last year.

Fans get to meet, mingle and get autographs and take pictures with former and current Georgia players. Kids will have games to play, including a chance to toss a football with a Bulldogs player.

“It’s been a huge hit,” Greene said.

“There’s always a little tweak year in and year out,” Matt Sinchcomb said. “It seems like the formula has worked so far to where the fans have enjoyed it. The guys that come and participate in it seem to really enjoy it and of course the charities that are the recipients and beneficiaries of those that come and choose to spend their time during the summer with us are very appreciative of it. We don’t want to change it too much.”

General admission is $25 per person or $75 for a family four-pack.

The event this year is expected to top the $1 million mark in total money raised for its charities. They include the Georgia Transplant Foundation and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

“Each year we’re trying to figure out new ways to make it fun for the fans and for the partners that have supported us in years past and find new ways to make it beneficial for these charities,” Jon Stinchomb said.

Greene, who makes his home in Grayson, and Matt Stinchcomb, who lives in Gwinnett County, work for a commercial insurance brokerage firm in Atlanta. Matt Stinchcomb also is an college football analyst on ESPN.

Jon Stinchcomb, who lives in Lawrenceville, works for an organization that tries to place chaplains and “character coaches” in high schools.

“The fans can actually see that these guys are actually real people,” Greene said. “They’re more than just football players.”

“And a defensive lineman can throw a spiral,” Matt Stinchcomb cracked.

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