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:
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 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 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.
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?
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 BlogtalkRadio.com, iTunes, TuneIn and Stitcher. Follow him on Twitter @GQ_4_Eva, @stormradio66 @stormsports66 & @insideiggles.
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