The Kenny Easley Athletic Fields
The lighted, multi-purpose football and baseball fields and surrounding area are now known as the Kenny Easley Athletic Fields at McNeil Park.
Kenny reflected on the time he spent on the field, and the honor bestowed to him almost 50 years later.
“On this field in 1969, I started an athletic career (baseball & football) that would eventually land me in the Pro Football Hall of Fame,” said Easley. “The City of Chesapeake was nice enough to rename the fields after me, as there are two football fields now; the baseball diamond has been converted into a football field, and the Ken Easley NFL Flag Football League plays on these fields now.”
And thankfully, racial divisions have also significantly melted away over that time span.
“In 1969, a black kid interested in playing football or baseball was limited to playing organized sports at this park only,” said Easley. “Times have changed, for the better, as 60% of the kids in my flag league today are white!”
Kenny shares the re-naming honor with the Rev. James McNeil, a long time advocate for what was once known as Cascade Boulevard Park. The park was renamed for McNeil in 2013.
“The naming of these athletic fields in honor of Mr. Easley serves as an acknowledgment of a living individual who, through many years of documented and acknowledged achievement in football at the highest levels, proudly represented his hometown of Chesapeake,” said Mike Barber, director of Parks, Recreation and Tourism.
The new signage was placed on the field on Saturday, October 6, the opening day of the Ken Easley NFL Flag Football League. The actual dedication ceremony is still in the planning process.
Kenny continues to give back to his community by supervising and monitoring a youth football organization at the park. The Ken Easley NFL Flag Football League provides kids with the opportunity to develop technical football skills in a fun, semi-competitive game environment. Players are placed on teams with a coach, and receive feedback and tips from the coach.