June 19, 2015


The second David J. Popek Jr. “Man of Steel” football tournament will be held Saturday at Wallington High School.

Popek died in 2012 at age 25 from undisclosed causes. He had been a star for the Panthers, finishing as the school’s all-time leading rusher before playing at The College of New Jersey.

Barbara Popek felt that the best way to honor her son’s memory was to connect to football in some way.

“David was football. David was Wallington football,” she said. “This is a nice tradition to remember him.”

Games will begin at 10:15 a.m. on five fields. It is traditional flag football with games lasting 25 minutes. Each team is guaranteed three games.

Many of the teams that played in 2014 had a connection to David. There were teams from TCNJ, players from his fraternity, a team of Wallington alumni and a team of federal air marshals — David was working in that field when he died.

And this year there will be a team of Port Authority police officers.

Popek was nicknamed “Superman,” hence the event’s title.

“You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone in Wallington who would say something bad about David,” said Wallington football coach Barry Blauvelt. “Sometimes you make people sound better when they are gone, but that’s how Dave was. Everyone really loved him.”

All the proceeds from the event will benefit the David J. Popek Jr. Memorial Scholarship Fund.

“Last year it was a blast,” Barbara said. “It was a great success for the foundation, and it was phenomenal just because of the camaraderie, bringing together all the people that had something to do with David’s life. It’s a great community event.”