Is Kaepernick a Good Fit Anywhere? Serious Question…

I probably don’t need to remind you of what happened during the preseason last year with Colin Kaepernick… but for all intents and purposes, it’s somewhat necessary when dealing with the situation at hand.

In 2016, 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick gained national attention when he began kneeling in protest during the singing of the United States national anthem before the start of games, motivated by what he viewed as the oppression of black people and other non-white races in the U.S. His actions prompted a wide variety of responses, including additional athletes in the NFL and other U.S. sports leagues protesting the anthem in various ways. Others who didn’t agree with him would scrutinize him, including active soldiers and veterans alike.

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Head coach Chip Kelly named Blaine Gabbert the starter over Kaepernick before Week 1. This wasn’t because of politics, but simply because Gabbert showed more promise over the, at the time, controversial quarterback making national headlines. Fast forward five weeks, and it was announced Kaepernick was given the starting job against the Buffalo Bills and it remained like that for the rest of the season. On October 13, it was announced that he and the 49ers restructured his contract, turning it into a two-year deal with a player option for the next season.

Kaepernick finished the season with decent numbers despite having no weapons on the offensive side. He racked up 2,241 passing yards, sixteen passing touchdowns, four interceptions and added 468 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns. On March 3, 2017, he officially opted out of his contract with the 49ers, an option as part of his restructured contract, therefore making him a free agent at the start of the 2017 league year.

So now he’s on the market and some teams may or may not feel indifferent about signing a quarterback with a specific political agenda.

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He wants to play, but so far no one has shown interest. The reason is due to two factors: his politics and the fact that he has a 59.8 completion percentage.

People are speaking out in support of Kaepernick that teams won’t sign him solely due to him speaking out against injustices against African-Americans in the United States. On the other hand, some people fail to see that no one wants a to sign a quarterback for whom you’d have to change the offense. Especially since he’s given up hope of being a starter for another team, signing a quarterback with 58 career starts isn’t exactly ideal for most teams.

It’s not a matter of politics that is keeping Kaepernick on the edge of his seat, waiting to be signed. It’s a matter of his playing ability and how he’s performed in the past, regardless of what he did pre-game on the sidelines. Granted he didn’t exactly have any offensive playmakers in the past couple years that could have helped him get better numbers. What’s important to remember is that this is not a matter of politics, but simply football.

Sports and politics have proven to not mix well and the league and its organizations are doing all that they can to remain out of the political spotlight. If a team were to sign him, then that spotlight is going to be cast on them, which is something they want to avoid.

A potential spot for Kaepernick could be Seattle since a system with a running quarterback fits the mold of what he does at the position. With only a couple more weeks until teams start OTA’s, Kaepernick is left to wait while other teams continue to stall signing him.

 

 

 

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The Red Sox and Orioles Brew Up Controversy

Already a month into the 2017 season, Major League Baseball has made some standout headlines: “Judgement Day in the Bronx”, “Nats Showing Early Dominance”, and “Cubs’ Bats Failing to Follow Historic Season”.

America’s pastime shows promise for an exciting rest of the season. But for two franchises, the headlines have grown more controversial throughout their bout.

The Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles have developed a rivalry filled with vicious wild pitches and unnecessary racial slurs in only a month. How’s that for a headline? With both teams a couple games out of first place in the AL East, the animosity between the two has skyrocketed to an intense level.

On April 21st, Orioles’ Manny Machado overslid second base attempting to break up a double play and caught Boston’s Dustin Pedroia’s calf with his spike. Had Machado purposefully meant to do this, hand him an Oscar for his acting ability. By all accounts, it looks as though it was an accident and he even tried to help Pedroia after the contact. The Red Sox second baseman would leave the game early and sit out the next three.

Pedroia defended Machado’s slide saying it was legal and that playing at an intense level like that is natural. As captain of the team, he ordered his fellow teammates to show no signs of retaliation towards Machado or the rest of the Orioles organization.

This whole situation could’ve blown over like it was nothing, but instead, hostilities began to escalate.

The following game, Machado was targeted with three straight inside pitches by Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez, failing every time. Later in the game, reliever Matt Barnes (an alumni of my high school, believe it or not) chucked a fastball right behind his head, leading to an ejection and Barnes’ four game suspension.

But it doesn’t stop there…

Baltimore’s closer Zach Britton fired a random shot at Pedroia’s leadership ability, saying, “If he can’t control his teammates, then there’s a bigger issue over there.” Pedroia said addressed his comments saying that he is entitled to his own opinion and that it’s time to move on from the situation.

But guess what? You’re probably right if you hypothesized that all the fuss didn’t find an ending. The Orioles/Red Sox game on May 1st at Fenway Park proved to be a turning point.

Baltimore starter Dylan Bundy plunked Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts, who both had nothing to do with the overlying situation. In the outfield, however, Orioles outfielder Adam Jones was the victim of, what he claimed to be, racial slurs thrown at him, alongside a stray bag of peanuts.

“I got called the n-word a handful times out there,” Jones said to Bob Nightengale of USA Today. “It’s unfortunate that people need to resort to those types of epithets to degrade another human being. I’m trying to make a living for myself and for my family.

Boston Police escorted the 34 antagonizing fans out of the ballpark. Both the Red Sox organization and Mayor Marty Walsh apologized to Jones, calling the fans’ behavior “inexcusable.” Walsh chimed in saying, “We are [all] better than this.”

Jones was greeted with a standing ovation from the Fenway faithful during his first plate appearance the next night.

Despite this, the team-wide personal vendetta against Manny Machado continued when Chris Sale fired a ball behind his head. A heated Machado summed up the entire situation in a post-game interview with just two words: “fucking bullshit.”

On May 3rd, Orioles starter Kevin Gausman was ejected from the game after beaming Boston shortstop Xander Bogaerts with an off-speed, rogue curveball to open the bottom of the second inning. To top it off, more racist remarks were heard during the performance of the national anthem which was sung by a Kenyan woman.

So, it goes without saying that the Red Sox/Orioles series this season has taken a turn down an unnecessary path. Will all this commotion continue when they face each other again in June, August, and September?

Both league commissioner Rob Manfred and chief baseball officer Joe Torre have had to step in now like a principal disciplining two misbehaving students to put an end to all this madness; enough is enough.

But what about the discipline that’s needed to ensure that racism stays out of the ballpark?

Controlling a player’s on- and off-the-field behavior is one thing; simply giving a suspension could either reduce the chance of it happening again or only fuel a player’s motive to commit the same act. Controlling a random fan’s actions in the stands, though? That’s a whole other ballgame. No pun intended.

The end result of this whole debacle still remains to be seen. Fans need to remember that their role is to support and cheer on their team no matter what. Sure, you can boo and jeer and hiss all you want at the other team; even an occasional “you suck” can be permitted at the discretion of the stadium’s rules and regulations. But when a line is crossed like on Monday night, something has to be said.

Imagine the six year old kid attending his first Red Sox game that day and hearing much more than what they would consider “potty mouth”. Their parents must be livid that they were exposed to that, especially in a friendly atmosphere like the one at Fenway Park.

It seems as though society still has many steps to take in showing any shred of tolerance. Sports is about a display of athleticism; it’s been years since race has played a role in how a player received a reaction from the crowd. We’re past that era and some fans still need to get that relayed to them.

Let’s stick to baseball and move forward.

NFL Draft First Round Recap

For the first couple picks of the draft last night, I was only able to watch it on my phone between my legs while at my school’s Danceworks show (which was amazing by the way). I was blown away by a lot of the selections and moves that ultimately spelled out a team’s future for this upcoming season. Here are some of the major events throughout the night that made this first round so special:

  1. The Browns Draft an Army, But Will It Make a Difference?

Hey, at least they didn’t draft another QB… yet. It was obvious that DE Myles Garrett from Texas A&M was going to go first overall. However, their following picks were very surprising because of the big names they selected, trying to bring some life into an already dead team. For their 25th and 29th overall picks, the Browns selected two studs with safety Jabrill Peppers from Michigan and TE David Njoku from Miami. Will these big names help them though? Garrett will be a powerful force coming off the end of the line, but going up against an NFL, possibly all-pro, tackle is way different than embarrassing some far-from-standout offensive lineman. He will be explosive, yes, but he’ll need to prove himself if he wants to be the dominant force that he says he is. Peppers did it all in college, playing nine positions offensively and defensively. If he can help the Browns succeed, then it’s very vital that the Browns strategize their defense, or offense, around him once he finds his groove within the organization.

2. Bears Trade ONE PICK UP to Select Mitchell Trubisky

Instead of me talking about this pick, I’ll let some Bears fans express how they feel about this…

Some Bears fans weren't exactly pumped for their team's selection at No. 2.

A post shared by SportsCenter (@sportscenter) on

Last night, the Bears, who originally had the third overall pick, traded one pick up in order to take QB Mitchell Trubisky from North Carolina. But why? The Niners didn’t even want him; they were going to select DE Solomon Thomas from Stanford regardless. And to top it off, they traded away multiple 2018 third round draft picks when they could end up needing those later on. After signing QB Mike Glennon to an absurd $15M contract, the Bears seem to really be banking on quarterbacks this season, which is understandable after watching Jay Cutler fall off a cliff these past couple seasons. The Bears surely needed a change, but was this the right approach?

3. Jaguars Add Another Name to Their Backfield with Leonard Fournette

Since I predicted this pick, I won’t dive in too deep with the analysis. The Jaguars need some help in their backfield since T.J. Yeldon and Chris Ivory don’t seem to be carrying the load. Fournette could surely help, but after a lackluster season, I’m very interested to see how he adjusts to a major NFL role.

4. Can the Panthers Bounce Back After a Shaky Season with McCaffrey?

I think this was the most surprising pick of the night other than Trubisky. I wasn’t expecting McCaffrey to go in this direction, but after taking about 30 seconds last night to reflect and think about it, it totally makes sense. The Panthers needed both a running back and a wide receiver; they got both in one pick. This Stanford stud fits the mold of a running back while also being the right size for a slot receiver. It’s a perfect match. Unless I’m proven wrong this coming season, the Panthers could get back up to an over .500 record like they did two seasons ago.

5. The CFP Champion Lands in Houston

Clemson QB Deshaun Watson, who, three months ago, brought down the Alabama Crimson Tide in the College Football Championship with two seconds left, was selected by the Houston Texans with the 12th overall pick. After giving away Brock Osweiler, who proved to not be worth the $72M they gave him, Houston saw that it was time to invest in a new quarterback that would help them be a major contender in not only their conference, but in the AFC South which, statistically, was the worst division in all of the NFL last year. Watson could definitely make a statement early if he and DeAndre Hopkins feel each other out during summer training and running routes after practice. And by the looks of it, that could happen very early…


6. The Eagles Find Someone to Match Legend Reggie White

There were a lot of fans who were very pleased by this pick when Philadelphia selected Tennessee All-American DE Derek Barnett. With the Volunteers, he broke the university’s career sack record of 32.0, which was formerly held by NFL legend Reggie White, who also played with the Eagles from 1985-92. If this isn’t something that has shades of destiny, I don’t know of anything else that could spell it out better. Many improvements need to be made to the Eagles, especially defensively, and this was a great start.

There are only six more rounds to go, but last night showed some impressive faces landing in spots where they could eventually make a difference. The Patriots won’t have a pick until early in the third round, and the 49ers are still looking to make a change since newly-appointed GM John Lynch took over. I’m very interested to see what else unfolds, especially since Florida State RB Dalvin Cook is still on the board. It’s anyone’s game, but it’s the most exciting time of the month for football.

 

The Tragedy of Aaron Hernandez

Yesterday morning at about 9 AM, I woke up to a text from my mom to see if I had heard the latest news that broke out. Right before I responded, I scrolled through my Facebook timeline to see a link to an ESPN article titled “Aaron Hernandez Commits Suicide in Prison Cell”. Putting it simply, I was in shock. Seeing a story like his come to an end in such a tragic way was difficult to take in.

The Patriots were scheduled to visit the White House that day, being the first championship team to visit President Trump in office, despite boasting small numbers in player attendance. The following day would have the 2017 NFL schedule released to the public, with tickets going on sale in the coming days. Lastly, the NFL Draft is in seven days, creating more exciting animosity in the NFL. But when this news broke out of Hernandez’s suicide, everything else started to fade away, making for a dark day for both the Patriots and the NFL.

I kept thinking back to the first time I had heard of Aaron Hernandez, as a Patriots’ fourth round draft pick out of Florida. As he progressed through the organization, he proved to be a dominant addition to the team, becoming a part of one of the most intimidating “tight end tandems” the league had ever seen paired with Rob Gronkowski. They both combined for 24 touchdowns in the 2011 season and controlled spots in tight end stat categories.

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He was well on his way to having a successful football career, but he just couldn’t get himself out of trouble when in the summer of 2013, he was arrested for the murder of Odin Lloyd. It was then discovered that he was involved both in a shooting in Miami earlier that year and a double homicide in Boston in the summer of 2012. He was sentenced for life in prison for the Odin Lloyd murder, but was found not guilty for the Boston and Miami murders on April 14th, 2017. Five days later, he committed suicide.

While I don’t have any sympathy for him and what he did, it’s a tragic story nonetheless. I’ve been seeing posts on Facebook saying that we shouldn’t be calling this a tragedy since he killed people and that he deserved to die. However, there’s another perspective that people are failing to take a glimpse at in this situation which makes the two mutually exclusive.

It’s the tragedy that a player, who had such potential and talent and looked like a sure-fire, accountable weapon for any team, couldn’t step away from gang affiliations despite making a life for himself that would, in the future, lead to a successful and happy career. Yesterday on First Take, Stephen A. Smith reacted to the early morning news and stated:

“He gets no sympathy from me. As far as I’m concerned, he got off easy… The best we can do for both the Odin Lloyd family and the Aaron Hernandez is to forget as much as we possibly can about this. Both families didn’t deserve to be associated with that, especially Hernandez’s four-year-old daughter (who will never know her father). He didn’t still have to be on the streets involving himself in gang-related activity. In the midst of signing a $40M contract, catching passes from Tom Brady, being coached by Bill Belichick, and getting checks cut for you by Robert Kraft, how do you throw it all away like that?”

That’s the real tragedy of it all: that he couldn’t escape and leave behind his affiliation for his main success. That, in the end, it’s what ultimately led to his tragic demise.

It’s very hard to understand that once you find yourself affiliated with gang-related activity, it stays with you. Your fingerprints are on everything that that gang has done and will do.

“My disappointment is what sports has meant to so many kids and what it meant to me,” said Hall of Fame wide receiver Cris Carter yesterday on FOX Sports’ Undisputed. “I’m empathetic of the current peer pressure that young people and the decisions they have to make. There’s so many kids that have been rescued from the streets by sports, and I thought [Hernandez] was going to be another case. This was a colossal disaster, and the kid had all the help in the world. He went to the best schools that offer everything from a medical to a clinical to any type of help an athlete would need. Sports was not able to rescue him because he wouldn’t let go of the streets. He was a high school All-American tight end, basketball star from Bristol, CT, went to play at the University of Florida under Urban Meyer, one of the best athletes to ever come out of Connecticut, and he still couldn’t let go. This is the best example of when people say, ‘Money changes you.’ No, it doesn’t. Money just makes you bigger than what you already are. As he continued to go up the scale in athletics, he only continued to get more violent. Sports has saved so many of these kids, but sports couldn’t save Aaron Hernandez.”

Hernandez had the world at his fingertips, but his life decisions and affiliations held him back. That’s the real tragedy.

What also was tough to see were all the jokes about his suicide. Twitter and other social media platforms were quick to mock his death. There has even been association with his death and the controversial Netflix show “13 Reasons Why” which is about a high school student who commits suicide and the aftermath. The Huffington Post wrote that “we have a long way to go when it comes to having a healthy, productive dialogue about mental health” and that this is a perfect example. “Suicide should never be a punchline,” the article states.

As someone who’s been deeply affected by the concept of mental illness and suicide, I saw a lot of problems with seeing all these jokes and how we treat mental illness. While this man did kill people, the fact that he faced demons that tormented him that others with mental illness face as well is very hard to imagine. If we treated mental illness with the sensitivity that it deserves, the more likely people with these issues are to get help. The stigma attached to it often silences those who suffer from it and prevents them from seeking the help they need. So next time you see or make a joke about Hernandez’s suicide, take a second to think about that.

Reports say that there will be a book coming out about his life and what ultimately caused him to take his own life. Based on the rumors I’ve heard about why he did it, I’ll be very interested to read it once it hits shelves.

 

 

 

 

 

2017 NFL Draft Expectations

With the Final Four set for this Saturday, it marks the soon-to-be closing of the NCAA basketball tournament, and brings along the ever-exciting Opening Day of the MLB and the heated up tension of the NBA going into the playoffs. It’s a never-ending cycle of major sports events that come and go every year.

At the end of the month of April, however, essentially starts the NFL season with the 82nd annual draft on the 27th, held in front of the stoic Philadelphia Museum of Art. Being one of my favorite events of the month, I enjoy seeing which players will go where and whether they’ll make a positive impact on whatever team they land on. Unfortunately, some players will end up being labeled busts within two years of playing.

Despite all the animosity, there are many things I look to see: how much Roger Goodell is booed, how uncomfortable the draftees get when Goodell tries to embrace them on stage, how loud Mel Kiper will get on the panel, and what draftees are waiting on the edge of their seat to have their named called surrounded by their families. With that said, here are my notable picks of the 2017 NFL Draft (note: this is not the order of the draft. They are simply the specific picks that I believe will have the most impact within the respective franchise).

  1. Cleveland Browns – Myles Garrett (DE), Texas A&M

For the Browns to draft another quarterback would only add to the list of problems they already have, especially since Brock Osweiler is practically fighting for the starting spot. With Garrett posting astronomical numbers for a player his size at the Combine, he’s what Cleveland needs as a pass-rusher, upgrading their defense. Cleveland often focuses on their offense too much when they need to simultaneously focus their attention on improving their defense. That’s where Garrett fits the mold.

2. Chicago Bears – Jonathan Allen (DE/DT), Alabama

The Bears were projected to pick a quarterback with this selection. However, after signing Mike Glennon to an absurd contract and kicking Jay Cutler out, the QB spot has been filled. Allen is the best player available at his position and would fill a huge gap on the defensive line across from Akiem Hicks. Despite the concerns with his shoulder, Chicago cannot pass up on talent like Allen’s.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Leonard Fournette (RB), LSU

Adding talent around Blake Bortles would very much improve their offense. I’ve said before that the Jaguars could very well be a dark horse one season and become a contender. After signing defensive keys in Jalen Ramsey and Dante Fowler, Jr., Fournette is best running back prospect available since Adrian Peterson. Although his 2016 season was lackluster due to an injury, his tape from the 2015 season showcases some of the best talent ever displayed. For Jacksonville to select him would add to a budding backfield alongside Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon.

4. New York Jets – OJ Howard (TE), Alabama

Alabama keeps cranking out “first rounders” left and right every year, and Howard is one that is very unique. He didn’t get the ball in his hands nearly enough this past season. But when he does, he is explosive and makes big plays. If Fournette is not available by the time the Jets get to select, I can see them going in this direction. They’ve been trying to sign tight ends during this offseason, so it is seen as a need, and Howard could provide the team with some much needed play-making ability.

5. Cincinnati Bengals – Dalvin Cook (RB), Florida State

He posted poor numbers at the combine… big whoop. That shouldn’t take away from his excellent vision of the field and his high-level production. Jeremy Hill has posted disappointing numbers these past two seasons while Giovanni Bernard cannot handle the full-time responsibility as the main running back. If the Bengals like Cook enough, I see them taking him.

6. Cleveland Browns – Mitch Trubisky (QB), North Carolina

Oh wait,… sorry, it’s Mitchell. Mitchell Trubisky. Because, apparently, that’s a very important thing to factor into this player’s ability. My fault. Anyways, if the Browns go defensively with Garrett for the first pick in the draft, this selection could possibly happen for the 12th overall pick. He does fit Hue Jackson’s scheme well, and could very well still be available come time for Cleveland’s second pick in the first round.

7. Indianapolis Colts – Reuben Foster (LB), Alabama

Yet another Alabama “first rounder”. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the Colts’ linebackers suck. There’s no other way to put it. They haven’t been able to cover tight ends and pass-catching running backs out of the backfield, so Foster will be a much-needed upgrade. Although he made some news after yelling at a hospital employee, this debacle isn’t expected to affect his draft status that much. And it shouldn’t; if you want to see how much he wreaks havoc on the field, go to YouTube and you’ll see why.

8. Tennessee Titans – John Ross (WR), Washington

Okay, yes, the Titans did acquire a wide receiver during this offseason, but it doesn’t look like it’ll be enough. Tennessee made great strides last year posting a 9-7 record, placing second in the AFC South. They fell short, however, when their main asset, Marcus Mariota, ended the season on the injured reserve. When he comes back, he will need some weapons, and Ross will be the playmaker. After breaking the combine 40-time record, he’ll be able to go the distance every time he touches the ball.

9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Christian McCaffrey (RB/WR), Stanford

He predictably stood out at the combine by not only posting good numbers, but also showing a passion for the game. That’s what Tampa Bay has been looking for in their players as of late. They desperately need a running back, and McCaffrey fits that description. I did see him going lower in the draft after he skipped out on the historic Sun Bowl, but the combine turned that around.

10. Miami Dolphins – Jabrill Peppers (S/LB), Michigan

He played a total of nine positions last year, both offensively and defensively. I repeat, nine. Any position you put him in, he will do the job that he is expected to do. After a tremendous combine, I see Peppers adjusting well to a professional environment with the fortitude to succeed and help whatever team he lands on. For Miami, in order to compete against New England, they need all the help they can get.

11. Pittsburgh Steelers – Deshaun Watson (QB), Clemson

It seems like a longshot, but there’s a lot to take into consideration when it comes to this pick. Big Ben has been hinting at retirement quite a bit during the offseason. He will play this upcoming season, but after suffering from injuries from time to time, the end of the Roethlisberger era in Pittsburgh may be closer than you think. The last time a team had future Hall of Fame quarterback retirement drama was Green Bay. Remember that? Out with Favre, in with Rodgers. Something similar could very well happen again, especially since Landry Jones isn’t the ideal quarterback you want leading your team. Watson has to go somewhere within the first round, given his ability and “wow” factor at his position. This move could potentially be a huge storyline for the NFL, and for the Pittsburgh franchise.

This upcoming NFL Draft flaunts big names; some that could possibly leave a long-lasting impact on a team. Like I said, these were the points that I think could make a difference in the progression of certain teams. I’d like to see all of my predictions come true, but even that is a longshot, especially after last year with the Laremy Tunsil scandal shaking up the entire projected order of the draft. Either way, it looks to be an exciting time for football and these young players’ futures.

Mr. Ball, What Are You Doing?

If you haven’t been keeping up with the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament this year, you’ve most likely witnessed the major losses of both Villanova and Duke in the round of 32, Kansas shockingly falling to Oregon in the Sweet 16, and the impressive run made by seventh-seeded South Carolina who will play Gonzaga in the Final Four on April 1st. If you haven’t been keeping up with all this madness, you’re probably about as un-American as President Trump who didn’t fill out a presidential bracket this year, breaking away from tradition.

However, there’s one team that’s been getting a lot of attention even before the tournament started. The UCLA Bruins not only had an impressive run in the tournament, losing to Kentucky in the Sweet 16, but worked out a 31-5 season, finishing third in the Pac-12 conference. Lonzo Ball, who has just declared for the NBA Draft this June, has put together a very notable stat line for a freshman, averaging 14.6 PPG, 7.6 APG, and a 67.3% FT percentage. Besides an unremarkable performance against Kentucky for his last game, NBA teams have been keeping a watchful eye on him throughout his college career.

Unfortunately, it’s not Lonzo that has been getting the attention from the media that he deserves. It’s his father, LaVar.

If you search up his name on Google, a lot of news stories will come up about his controversial statements to reporters and in the media. However, my favorite is what comes up for his Wikipedia page: “a whole lotta nothin'”. He began his rampant journey through media coverage by exclaiming in March that his son was better than both Steph Curry and LeBron James, two of the most dominant players in professional basketball today. On March 14th, he said, “Back in my heyday, I would kill Michael Jordan one-on-one.”

Quite a lot of talk coming from someone who, back in their “heyday”, averaged 2.2 PPG at Washington State. What was Jordan doing back during his “heyday”? Averaging 37.1 PPG, earning MVP awards, working his way towards becoming the greatest basketball player of all time… the rest is pretty much history.

It’s almost cringe-worthy to watch LaVar Ball deliver these outlandish comments and wonder where all this confidence comes from. Apparently, according to a SportsCenter Featured piece on the Ball family, it runs in the family.

All of this criticism towards the family seems similar to those shows, like “Dance Moms”, where the parents will push their kids into the spotlight and subsequently gain attention to themselves. It stops and makes you think, “What if I was raised like that?”

Besides dancing though, there are some parents, like LaVar Ball, that are a bit too vocal when it comes to their children and the sports they play. Maybe it’s time to step out of the spotlight and let your kids take it from there. Your “heyday” is over, and now some professional players are beginning to take note of what LaVar is saying, especially NBA All-Star John Wall who says that him and other players will punish Lonzo for his “daddy’s remarks” come time for him to play in the NBA. Better watch out.

At the end of the day though, Lonzo is well aware of what his father has been saying. All he’s focused on is what he does on the court. It’s a smart move, but after a while, he’ll definitely have to take his dad off his high horse. Don’t know how difficult that’ll be, but it’ll surely be another media debacle and debate waiting to happen.

The Intelligence of NFL Players

The National Football League is full of players who come from various backgrounds. All of them, however, had to go through years of schooling before making it big time, whether that means two, three, or a full four years of university learning. Maybe even five year, which is what Brandon Weeden did at Oklahoma State before being drafted by the Browns in 2012.

No, players can’t simply be drafted out of high school like some MLB and NBA athletes are. Going from high school football to the marquee NFL is way too big of an adjustment for a high school player to humanly adapt to.

So, scholarships are handed out left and right to recruit top-performing high school football stars so they can attend the well-oiled machines of Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, Michigan, etc.

But it’s what these athletes do with these extraordinary offers that they shouldn’t be passing up on; they’re meant to be student-athletes, not the full-time jock only stereotyped to be the playmaker on the field and a party maniac off the field (ex: everything Thad Castle did in Blue Mountain State).

Recently, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback, Jameis Winston, has received criticism after being a guest speaker at a St. Petersburg elementary school. The remarks that he made in front of the children there were not quite the proper message that he was trying to convey. Here’s the video:

Winston later said that this was “poor word choice” and not at all what he was trying to say. He was attempting to have one individual in the crowd, who was a young male, get involved after being distracted.

Fellow players and coaches say that this was a mistake on Winston’s part and that he has definitely learned from it. They all know Winston to be highly motivational and a huge asset to the team as a leader. He’s one of the main reasons why Tampa Bay had a winning season for the eighth time since the new millennium, finishing 9-7 and placing second in the AFC South behind Atlanta.

But on hot take shows like First Take and Pardon the Interruption, analysts of both shows have said that the elementary school should’ve done its research before having Winston come and speak.

While attending Florida State University, despite having successful on-the-field achievement, his off-the-field conduct was far from admirable. Being the subject of many allegations and scandals, including vulgar comments, shoplifting, and a sexual assault accusation (for which he was later proven innocent), the target has been placed on Winston for quite a while.

However, this should in no way create any questioning of the intelligence level of NFL athletes. They are not dumb, stupid, ignorant, dimwitted, pea-brained, or whatever way you want to put it. For having to learn so much information (plays, formations, routes, defensive shifts, coverages, etc.) and play one of the hardest sports in the world, the level of intelligence is at an all-time high for NFL superstars.

Not only has Winston become the youngest player ever to receive a Heisman trophy and claim the title of a first overall draft pick while at FSU, he also maintained a 3.4 GPA as an exploratory major (meaning that he was so interested in a variety of topics that he couldn’t decide on a specific major).

What Winston did was a mistake, which is what a lot of major league athletes have admitted to committing. What matters is what they learn from it and how they move forward. And no, Winston is not dumb. Saying that should be insulting to other players, like him, who worked hard to get where they are.

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Eric Berry, cornerback for the Kansas City Chiefs and now the highest paid cornerback in the league, received the 2015 Comeback Player of the Year Award after taking time off to go through a huge amount chemotherapy for his diagnosis of Hodgkin’s lymphoma. While attending the University of Tennessee, he maintained a 3.7 GPA as a psychology major and also interned at several places of medicinal practice, including a dental surgeon where he learned how to perform a root canal surgery (he could still perform one if he needed/wanted to).

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Projected first round draft pick, Deshaun Watson out of Clemson, possesses all the essentials of a quarterback that any NFL team within the first 10 picks this year needs. He has the dynamics, the athleticism, and consistency that will only improve teams like the Buffalo Bills, where Mel Kiper Jr.has projected Watson to go in his latest mock draft (updated on Feb. 15th). He also has stayed out of trouble while attending school, maintaining a GPA of 4.0 and above and receiving a degree in communication this past December. Any team would be lucky to have him.

Before you start questioning the intelligence of NFL players, or any athlete for that matter, do your research and check the facts. You’ll most likely eat your words because of what you find. Athletes from all walks of life may dedicate themselves to the game and their craft, but they are aware of the importance of getting a proper education, and that’s one thing that makes a huge difference in how they perceive themselves and how the media sees them.