#sportstalk: Why athletes won’t and can’t just “stick to sports”

When I’m writing this post, the sports world has been shaken up. Most notably the NFL, but other leagues such as the NBA, NHL, and MLB have been also. With the current political climate, systematic racism and blatant white supremacy, there’s no way athletes won’t and can’t just stick to sports.

As a sports fan, I’ve personally never understood why fans only wanted their athletes to “stick to sports.” It always baffled me when people said it and it still does. Basically what they’re saying is they want the athletes to go out and entertain them and that’s it. You don’t want them to have any substance or life outside of their sport.

That’s not only completely ridiculous but also unrealistic and hypocritical. Let’s tackle that first word. It’s ridiculous to assume players are just going to put their heads down and play sports. They weren’t put on their earth to just play sports. They’re humans with feelings, emotions, and families just like everyone else.

It’s unrealistic because no one can just center their life around sports. Not one single person only thinks or plays sports all day long. Then sports would no longer be fun or entertaining. Everything would be boring and there’s already enough of that in the world.

Hypocritical can stretch out to anything but I want to deal with the protests. No one looks at JJ Watt and tells him to “just stick to sports.” No one looks at Gronk and tells him to “Just stick to sports.” It’s white privilege that makes them not say anything. As soon as someone noticed Kap, everyone was quick to shun him, create offensive t-shirts, make him into a meme or bash his character.

Kap created a camp for black children to learn how to deal with the police, donated almost a million dollars to various charities working in oppressed communities and has just announced the addition of another camp. No one wants to talk about what good he does and instead focus on the way he protested.

The protest that originally started as a way to bring attention to police brutality, black lives matter and inequality in the United States. It has since been reduced to “disrespecting the American flag and our military.” Then again, people would have a problem no matter how or what the athletes protested.

Sticking to sports takes the athlete’s identity and throws it out the window. Football is their career, but it’s not their everything. As evidenced by the video of Michael Bennett, being an NFL player doesn’t spare you from police brutality. He was almost killed after an incident he wasn’t involved in. Just let that sink in for a moment. He was almost killed for not being involved with an incident and instead for being black.

If that thought doesn’t sicken you, there’s something wrong with you. If you push the protest off as being unamerican, you’re the problem. Making a change in the world sometimes means making a change in yourself and looking inward.That’s what athletes are doing and trying to get others to do. Systematic racism will only change if the system changes and the system will only change if people make it change.

Athletes will no longer just stick to sports and it’s about time. They’re putting their lives at risk every day, sometimes just by walking outside. The least you can do is respect them.

 

#sportstalk: Loving a team with problematic players

Oh boy, I’ve been dreading actually making a post about this but I knew I had to and what better way to than a #sportstalk? It’s basically just a post where I throw all my feelings out on the table. Even though I’m writing this really early (hi from the past!), this is something that’s been bothering me for a long time.

I’m a huge sports fan. While I don’t blog about it as much, sports are a huge part of my life. One issue I always struggled with was loving my team despite some of the players being…well human garbage. I’m a Dallas Cowboys fan, I’ve always been and I always will be.

I love my team, but I don’t love everything about them especially their players. While my two favorite players are pretty good guys, the whole team isn’t. Look at Ezekiel Elliott who was accused of domestic violence and is still a member of the team. Whether he’s guilty or not, it’s despicable and something I don’t tolerate. However, it proves more an even bigger point.

NFL front offices don’t care about what you do, who you’re with or how you spend your time as long as you win games. It’s a sad reality and one I have a hard time grasping because it’s so unrealistic. No one accused of what Elliott did would still have a job right now. They would have been unemployed a long time ago and look at Lucky Whitehead.

Whitehead wasn’t even the one in the video, but he was released. He was quick to point the finger at the Cowboys as he rightfully should. He wasn’t necessarily helping the team win so they got rid of him. It’s an easy concept to grasp and something I noticed in 2015, too. Even with such a horrible record, the Cowboys still kept Greg Hardy.

One player I absolutely detested was Greg Hardy. Every time I think about him, my stomach turns and I feel sick. He’s such a horrible person and deserves to be far away from the league and people in general. He not only denied any wrongdoing but also believes the survivor injured herself. It’s sickening but it proves how far a team will go to win.

While there’s a lot of blame at the feet of the NFL front offices, I blame both the NCAA and the players themselves. The recent scandals at Ole Miss and Baylor are all the proof you need to hear. College athletes are given whatever and whoever they want to do whatever they want with. Meanwhile, coaches and other staff will cover it up as long as they win games. Starting it off early only furthers the problem.

The players are to blame as well. When you’re an NFL player, there are entirely different standards. The younger crop of players is really starting to go against this. Rookies are allowed to get away with more and more and no one is questioning it. Statements like ‘Boys will be boys’ or ‘He’s just young, give him a break,” excuse them instead of treating them like the men they’re supposed to be. If they’re man enough to play in the league and cash those checks, they are man enough to be held to certain standards.

Last but not least, I blame the fans, myself included. Football has become such a huge part of the zeitgeist and we want to be entertained. We want to forget about the world and our problems for a while so we ignore it. Yes, you can love a team and cheer for them, but not for everyone. It’s alright to call out players who are problematic and not root for them.

It’s a hard truth people don’t like to hear but we need to shout it out. As much as you support your team, it’s your job to call out those who deserve to be. I don’t think it makes you any less of a fan or loves the team any less. You just want your players to not just stick to sports and there’s nothing wrong with that.

 

Rico Gathers is a glimpse of the Dallas Cowboys future

I hate to admit this as a Cowboys fan, but I didn’t watch the Hall of Fame game. I actually thought it was next week…oops. My dad didn’t watch it either so oh well haha. Either way, I’ve heard a lot of buzz about the game and no one more than Rico Gathers.

Gathers was a 2016 draft pick in the later rounds. A former Baylor basketball player turned TE, Gathers has seemingly become the future of the Dallas Cowboys. Before you start questioning me, I know Dak and Zeke were the future. They’re not anymore, they’re the present Dallas Cowboys and I couldn’t be happier.

Dak and Zeke are set up for success and as leaders of the team. I obviously love them, but they’re not the future anymore. It’s time to look at Gathers. Honestly, I wasn’t even sure if I’d get to see Gathers on the field. He was definitely a longshot, but he has proven himself and could be the heir to Jason Witten. I know it’s a little bit early, but Witten isn’t getting any younger.

If we’re being realistic, Witten probably has no more than 5 years. If he even makes it 5 more years, Witten will be 40 years old and that’s old at least for the NFL. Then again, 30 is old to me haha. Regardless, Witten only has a few more years left of play in him and only a few years left to finally get a ring. If he doesn’t get a ring, I’ll be incredibly upset as will many, many other Cowboys fans.

After Witten’s time is done, it wasn’t clear who the Cowboys would turn to. Now, their choice seems a little bit easier. Fortunately, I’m glad the Cowboys didn’t stick with Gavin Escobar. Escobar was supposed to be the successor to Witten but has failed to live up to expectations. Escobar has since moved onto the Kansas City Chiefs and hopefully will find more success.

It might be a little while until the Cowboys call up Gathers, but he’s showing he’s up to the challenge and is way above his draft stock. Gathers will join the long line of Cowboys who were low draft picks turned studs. This was truly a breakout for Gathers and the media and fans alike are starting to take him seriously.

The future for Gathers is bright. While Witten is consistent, he isn’t the fastest or most explosive player on the field. That’s why Jason Garrett could bring in Gathers for a few plays to pick up some necessary first-downs or maybe give Gold Jacket a few minutes to catch his breath. The future of the Cowboys TE could be in safe hands even if they’re not in Witten’s.

How will Tony Romo be remembered?

Tony Romo was the heart and soul of the Dallas Cowboys for years. During his tenure with the team, Romo became the laughing stock of the NFL but Cowboys fans saw past that. They saw a man with the world on his shoulders, trying to balance his career and his health with heaps of criticism. With a new sports broadcasting job, how will Tony Romo be remembered by Cowboys fans and fans in general?

Obviously, NFL fans will remember him because of his fails. Being a sports fan always means focusing on the worst. Look at the Falcons, all they’ve been hearing for months is the 28-3 jokes. Eventually, it will grow old but it hasn’t for Romo. Many consider 2014 to be the peak of his career and still the jokes never ceased. It’s weird to imagine the world where fans didn’t make jokes about him.

Jokes might not be what Romo intended, but he’s still being talked about. It might not be what he hoped for, but his name will forever live in infamy. A few years from now, people will still be making jokes and he’ll still be rolling in millions of dollars. You see who the real winner is there.

Then there are the Cowboys fans. As a fan myself, it was hard to see Romo walk away from the game. He was the quarterback I grew up with and was my first jersey so watching him hang up his cleats so suddenly was heartbreaking. The thing that makes me the saddest is he was never able to get a Superbowl ring. He was able to get close but never could make him the final leap. Then again, Superbowl rings don’t mean anything at the end of the day. Greatness isn’t always measured by how many rings someone has.

For Cowboys fans, remembering Romo will be in his glory. Leading the team to a fourth-quarter comeback, playing through injury and his final touchdown pass to Terrance Williams, just to name a few moments. Memories of Romo will live on in Cowboys fans hearts forever and it’s hard to think about him not being a captain. He left the team with grace and respect, handing the reins over to Dak Prescott who righted the ship and kept hope alive.

This isn’t the end of Romo, though. He’ll be a part of the CBS Sports broadcast team and hopefully, be on our TV for many years. He’ll be saying goodbye to his professional football career but won’t be saying goodbye forever. Seeing him once a week or even a few times a week will be sure to bring a smile to a Cowboys fans face.

Romo might not be remembered as one of the all-time greats, but to me, he’s so much more. He was a player who sacrificed it all, moved aside when the time was needed and bravely started a new chapter. Whether you believe he was great on the field, he’s a great person and that’s how I’ll always remember him.

 

Why Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott work so well together

Last season was amazing for the Dallas Cowboys. They managed to win without Tony Romo, a feat previously plaguing the team. The team was able to hit the jackpot during the draft and most of that was because of Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott. A 4th-round pick and the 4th overall pick, the two had chemistry and it showed on and off the field.

The main reason I believe they worked well together was that they were both rookies. It’s a little easier with a veteran guiding a rookie because, with two rookies, it can be kind of questionable. However, these two were able to benefit off of that. They learned together, made strides and helped lead the team to an impressive season. They soaked up the information from the veterans and players who were already on the team so they knew what to do.

Another obvious reason is the team’s offensive line. Known as one of the best O-lines in the NFL, each was protected. Dak was able to move around the pocket and confidently make throws while also being able to pick up some yards and necessary first downs when they needed it. In the same vain, the line would part or create holes for Zeke to run through. While being smart had something to do with it, the line deserves a lot of credit for their success as well.

Zeke and Dak truly became best friends, on and off the field. That’s not always necessary for success, but it helps. Having a relationship, off-the-field allowed them to spend time together, learn more about it and in turn, use some of the information on the field. On the field, the two carried that same bond and were able to use their energy to make plays off of each other.

While their main objective was to win, the two actually had fun. It’s rare to see two players out there, doing what they love and having fun at the same time. You can see in the way they act towards each other and how they play, they like to have fun on the field and it only helps the entire team. If a few players are having fun with a lot of energy, it keeps everyone’s spirits up and helps prep the team up.

Dak and Zeke are the heart of the Dallas Cowboys and they will be for years. Their chemistry, focus, and competitiveness make them one of the dynamic duos currently in the NFL. It’s hard to believe the two are only entering their second year of play together but they’re sure to continue to raise the bar. I can’t wait to see what the two do this upcoming season and how their chemistry grows.

 

 

49ers

Torrey Smith is NFL’s voice of reason for Colin Kaepernick

Being on an NFL team is always difficult especially because you never have job security. Colin Kaepernick knows this all too well. What originally began as a promising career has fizzled as fast as RGIII’s time with the Cleveland Browns.

When Kaepernick decided to protest the national anthem, a bigger spotlight went on him but not for the right reasons. We weren’t talking about his playing time but what he was doing before the game. Fans of the NFL and non-fans alike have shunned him, sent him death threats, assaulted and harassed him. Many players sided with him, either copying his gesture or making their own statement. Either way, it got the world talking about issues like Kaepernick hoped.

However, the move seemed to blackball him from the rest of the NFL. While some teams spoke about the player’s choice, others vehemently spoke about cutting them. Most recently, New York Giants’ co-owner, John Mara spoke about it. Reported by ESPN, Mara talked about receiving impassioned fanmail, “‘If any of your players ever do that, we are never coming to another Giants game.’ It wasn’t one or two letters. It was a lot. It’s an emotional, emotional issue for a lot of people, moreso than any other issue I’ve run into.” Interesting considering the Giants recent scandals involving domestic violence and off-the-field behavior.

People weren’t pleased with his statement but most of all, Torrey Smith. Smith who currently plays for the Philadelphia Eagles is a former teammate of Kaepernick’s and he tweeted out his thoughts after.

https://twitter.com/TorreySmithWR/status/869209085207597057

https://twitter.com/TorreySmithWR/status/869220488861679616

Smith’s first tweet is something I’ve always thought about NFL fans. They are completely hypocritical with their morals and values. If they have a love for a player, he should get a second chance or if he didn’t commit a “heinous crime” in their opinion, he needs to be forgiven and everyone is being too harsh on him. Being from Pennsylvania, I see a lot of this when people refer to Ben Roethlisberger who settled with two women out of court but was accused of sexual assault. Even though we have nothing to prove his guilt or innocence, fans quickly defended him. Instead of seeing the women as victims, they saw him as a victim. That’s just an example but something fans have found excusable.

Then his second tweet is even better because it calls out the hypocrisy of fans, coaches, players and teams. People associate kneeling during the national anthem as a sign of disrespect and were quick to vilify Kap but didn’t want to address the idea. They don’t want to be called out on their racism or prejudice, they want to ignore that issue and focus on his “hatred” for America which wasn’t it at all.

Looking at it from the other side, they’re praising teams who have criminals on their roster. Players such as Junior Galette, Joe Mixon, Terrell Suggs and James Harrison have all been accused or committed domestic violence. Then there’s sexual assault which players like Ben Roethlisberger, Ahmad Brooks, Jameis Winston and Richie Incognito have been accused of doing in some capacity. All of the players listed above are currently on active NFL rosters while Kaepernick reminds a free agent.

Do we see the problem here? People care more about their country than a woman. It’s disgusting to say, but men are more worried about a man sitting during a song than a man touching or putting his hands on a woman without her consent. It’s sickening to think that the NFL will cut players for domestic violence or sexual assault only when there’s evidence people can throw in their face. If not, then good for you because you’ll likely be on an NFL roster.

Torrey Smith was right with what he said. If people put half their energy into hating Kap as they did about standing up for women, the NFL would look a lot different. Hopefully, Kap gets another chance and the NFL starts to take sexual assault and domestic violence seriously. I’m crossing my fingers.