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From Michael Vick to Ezekiel Elliott: Examining troubled black NFL athletes



The recent leaking of Ezekiel Elliott’s arbitration reminds us of Michael Vick and uncovers an even scarier problem.

You’ve probably heard the news by now. An ex-college football standout is given unnecessary privilege, fails at being a productive member of society and gets himself into unnecessary trouble. It’s the story of Dallas Cowboys star running back Ezekiel Elliott. Then again, it’s also the stories of Michael Vick, Ray Rice, Jameis Winston and countless others.

We’ll stick with the NFL for a specific reason. The NBA, once described as a league full of “thugs” doesn’t truly have the same issue to the same level that the NFL does. Their athletes truly don’t appear to get arrested as often or have the same level of issues with self control on a regular basis. Instead, they’re branded unfairly by another sect of people, many of them older white men, who have more issues with how they look than how they act.

That, my friends, is truly another story for another day.


Since Ezekiel Elliott left the Ohio State Buckeyes for the greener pastures of the NFL, he’s made news for the right reasons. He proved to NFL teams again there is some value in using early draft picks on the league’s most punishing position. He legitimately had a shot to win the NFL MVP award as a rookie. It can be argued that he was a huge cog in the machine that reinvigorated the fan base of one of sports’ most popular (and bandwagon-prone) franchises.

Then, there’s that other side. He’s shown a lack of self control. He’s been described as a whoremonger. There have been stories of sexual misconduct. Then, there’s the domestic abuse story.

That one is the reason for his six-game suspension by the NFL.

We’ve all learned that regardless of what the police findings are, the league has a tendency to do it’s own investigation. Elliott was suspended. He appealed, and based off what we’re seeing, Eliott, the NFLPA and league offices have a long way to go before this situation reaches a conclusion.

Michael Vick, Ray Rice, Jameis Winston:

Jameis Winston Photo provided by the Orlando Sentinel

We know the stories of Michael Vick and Ray Rice well. There’s no need to revisit. It’s been written about enough. There’s also Tampa Bay’s quarterback, Jameis Winston.

The latter is a juxtaposition of shoplifting (the crab legs story), public displays of misconduct (jumping on a table and screaming explicit phrases made popular on the internet) and accusations of sexual battery. I’m not going to list all of his issues. You can research that on your own.

They won’t be hard to find. They never are. What’s difficult is finding the stories about his rehabilitation, growth and maturity. All of which are part of his story as well. That’s always the more difficult task.

The debate:

The question is asked over and over again why these young black men can’t control themselves. Some blame them. Others see it as another example of too many young black men lacking consistent role models. Some blame the violent game they’ve chosen to play as if they’ve been unable to separate the violent nature of a game and some of their upbringings from real-life application.

Some have even asked if there’s even one success story among the bunch. There is, and we’re glad you asked the question.

Ray Lewis:

Ray Lewis was once a member of one of the most celebrated, loved, hated and demonized programs in the history of college football, the Miami Hurricanes. Though most of the antics had calmed down prior to Lewis’ tenure, he’s forever linked as one of those “thugs” the school produced.

Ray Lewis giving back..
Photo provided by

There was just one thing. Lewis was special. He, too, found himself in trouble. In 2000, he was charged with the murder of two black men, Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar, following an incident at a Super Bowl party in Atlanta. A plea agreement was agreed upon by attorneys and charges were dropped in exchange for Lewis’ cooperation and testimony against Reginald Oakley and Joseph Sweeting.

Lewis never found himself anywhere close to any trouble again. He’s a living testimony that some of those inner-city youths can become great men. He’s a father, a Man of God and the creator of the Ray Lewis 52 Foundation, a program that provides personal and economic assistance to disadvantaged youth. Then, there’s all of his positive contributions.

To list all of the good deeds he does would be impossible. Still, to get a brief outline, you can do so by clicking here.


It’s both impossible and clueless to intertwine the paths of all of these great NFL stars as the same story. There are too many moving pieces, too many factors to consider and too many personalities. It still makes one curious however. What’s the issue? Are they men struggling to find their way? Is it safe to say boys becoming men need to find men to pattern themselves after, and they can’t find one?

Whatever the reason, the stories of failure are often inflated and don’t exist as much as some would have you to believe. There are 1,696 players on the active rosters of 32 NFL teams, most of them are African-American. Stories like Ray Lewis’ are the normally the rule and not the exception. Even if the more popular story is to distort the facts and tell you the opposite.

Then again, why are any of us even surprised by that any more?

Geoffrey Knox

Exposure Magazine Sports Editor

Geoffrey Knox is the creator and the owner of The Thunderstorm Hip Hop Sports & Entertainment Network, co-editor for Inside The Iggles and a contributor for Saturday Blitz. Bookmark Thunderstorm Media on, iTunes, TuneIn and Stitcher. Follow him on Twitter @GQ_4_Eva, @stormradio66 @stormsports66 & @insideiggles.


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Orlando Magic Enshrine Tracy McGrady in Team’s Hall of Fame



This past Tuesday the Orlando Magic honored one of the NBA’s premier talents when it enshrined NBA Hall of Fame guard/forward Tracy McGrady into its own hall of fame. McGrady spent 4 season with the Magic, making the all-star team every season, the All-NBA 1st or 2nd team every season, winning two scoring titles and the most improved player award in the 2000-2001 season. The more notable part of McGrady’s enshrinement is that we are still asking “what if” due to the injuries that cut short his run of dominance in the NBA, and the likelihood of his star shining even brighter had he not incurred them.

“We all sit around and wonder what it would have been like if he had spent the majority of his career here or finished his career off here after those four years.” said Orlando Magic CEO Alex Martins. “If he had, I think, clearly, his number would be hanging in the rafters here and perhaps we’d even be talking about the Magic having won a championship during that time.’’

“It’s full circle because I used to drive up with my mom from Polk County and at a certain point I’d smell that bread and then we’d pass (Amway Arena) and I’d be like, “I’m going to play there one day, I’m going to be in that uniform,’’ McGrady said after the enshrinement. “Now, here we are getting inducted into the Orlando Magic Hall of Fame and it’s a gratifying feeling. This is how it should have been.’’

Donning number one in tribute to his favorite player coming up Penny Hardaway, as well as coming up in Florida as a kid, McGrady definitely fit the bill of hometown hero during his tenure with the Magic. As impressive as his 28 points, five assists and seven rebounds a game were, like many greats of the past, McGrady’s game was an experience; An experience that had viewers watching his career and team high 62 points in his final season with the team and believing that could happen any given night.

At some point, the question was “T-Mac or Kobe?” with regard to who the best player in the league was. In a not so surprising remark, NBA legend Kobe Bryant was asked who was his toughest cover during his playing days.


Still occasionally getting the itch to ask “what if” about McGrady’s career, fans should still acknowledge the 8 year teaser was a very substantial appetizer just as McGrady is able to.

“There’s a lot of what could have been with my career,” McGrady said. “But no, I don’t look back on it. I live on the experiences.”.


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Surprising Upsets Headline NCAA Tournament Round of 64 as Round of 32 Begins



Walking off the court in deep laughter, screams and smiles, the Retrievers of the University of Maryland-Baltimore County (UMBC) were still taking in completing possibly the biggest upset in NCAA history over the Virginia Cavaliers. To sum up the game, the Retrievers played as close to perfect as you could hope, while the Cavaliers displayed a stagnant offense, and a soft defense specifically by the rim which resulted in the 74-54 final score.

“A week ago, we’re cutting down the nets and confetti is falling,” Virginia head coach Tony Bennett said to CBS. “And then we make history by being the first 1-seed to lose. I’m sure a lot of people will be happy about that, and it stings. But, trying to tell the guys in there, this is life. It can’t define you. You enjoy the good times, and you got to be able to take the bad times.”

An equally embarrassing showing came on opening day between the Arizona Wildcats and the Buffalo Bulls. Selected by over 3 million brackets to at least reach the Final Four  while also having the best player in the tournament, center DeAndre Ayton, Thursday’s outcome of 89-68 in favor of the Bulls was unexpected to say the least.

The Wildcats had a distinct size advantage, or disadvantage in this case, with the Bulls swarming the big men in the paint and limiting their effectiveness.  The Buffalo guards were aggressive throughout and could not be contained by Arizona and basically had the Wildcats in the palm of their hand for most of the game.

“We knew we had a very tough draw,” Arizona Coach Sean Miller said to the Washington Post. “We knew we were playing an excellent basketball team — and a team, quite frankly, that we didn’t necessarily match up well with.

For the first time in 33 years the Loyola Ramblers of Chicago made their return to the NCAA tournament. Usually teams with these stories show up with the “just glad to be here” look until they don’t like the Ramblers Thursday. Fighting through a close game against the Miami Hurricanes, guard Dante Ingram of Loyola issued a reminder to fans via his buzzer beating three pointer that the Ramblers are here to win.

“Well, it’s pretty simple to know why we call it March Madness.” said Hurricanes coach Jim Larranaga post game.

The round of 32 will likely provide its own variety of shocks and surprises. Whether the underdogs will shock us again or the Goliath-like teams reaffirming why they are here, March Madness will remain just as exciting as ever.

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Star Cornerback Richard Sherman Bids Seahawks Farewell Upon Release From Team



Earlier today the Seattle Seahawks released cornerback Richard Sherman due mostly to the financial strain of maintaining his salary. There was a meeting between both parties today which the release indicates neither side could find common ground. Regardless of what was said, the team appeared to want to send Sherman off on a positive note.

“Thank you for helping win championships, shape our culture and define success in Seattle,” the team said in a public statement regarding Sherman.

“We love you and your unwavering competitiveness, confidence and fierce passion for football and life. For that, you will always be a Hawk!”

Sherman too seemed to want to leave the situation on a positive note, expressing his stance via twitter.


Unable to finish the 2017-2018 season due to a ruptured Achilles, Sherman’s health likely played at least a small factor in the decision, but all reports indicate Sherman is on track for a full recovery. A Super Bowl champion, three-time pro bowl and first team All-Pro player, as well as one of the outspoken leaders of the Seahawks defense, Sherman could be taking his talents elsewhere, but the Seahawks expressed their willingness to welcome Sherman back at a reduced price which still leaves the door open for a return.

There are a number of good fits available for Sherman. Sherman has history with some of the coaching staff for the Cowboys and Falcons, the Chargers aren’t too far from Sherman’s hometown and the 49ers could offer him a big payday. There are plenty of other options available, and while Sherman has jumped from saying he wants to play for a contender, to he’s willing to join and up and coming squad, his last statement of finding a team that’s comfortable with numbers to match sounds to have the most sound reasoning backing it.

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