Respect: Maurice Clarett

Saturday night, I found myself exhausted. I had an extremely busy and productive week which consisted of meetings, work, fundraising and the cherry on top: my little cousin graduating from college with honors. As I lay in the recliner Saturday night flipping channels, I stopped on one of my favorite channels: ESPN. A new 30 for 30 was about to start entitled Youngstown Boys. It was the story of Youngstown’s most famous sons, Maurice Clarett and Jim Tressel. As tired as I was, the thought crossed my mind to DVR it and watch it later. However, I was intrigued from the opening scene and I decided to watch it. To say that I am glad I did would be an understatement.

The media. The media. The media. Boy has the media torn apart  Clarett. The media would have you to believe that Clarett is a young man who squandered away the opportunity of a lifetime all because he was self-centered, self-righteous and self-appointed to be the next big star at Ohio State University. They labeled him a troublemaker. A traitor. A modern day Benedict Arnold in the state of Ohio.

Now, I have closely followed Clarett’s story since he burst onto the scene at Ohio State. During his freshman year, I was a Senior at North Carolina State and we had a freshman that was making a lot of noise on the football field as well: T.A. McLendon. Both were hard nosed runners who could dart through a hole almost before it opened. There was a lot of hype surrounding both players especially before the season began in 2003, the  year my beloved Wolfpack would make the trip to the infamous Horseshoe for a show down with the Buckeyes. Unfortunately, the showdown between two of the best in the backfield did not happen. Clarett was in the middle of serving what would eventually become a year long suspension from football. That suspension marked the beginning of a downhill spiral for Clarett. For those of you who are not familiar with his story, watch Youngstown Boys.

Before I watched the documentary, I assumed the focus would be on Clarett’s and Tressel’s “fall from Ohio State grace.” That was how it was promoted. I was presently surprised to see that the focus was mainly on Clarett with Tressel’s story weaved into the mix. Not that I would not have enjoyed hearing about Tressel’s rise from the relatively unknown city in Ohio, it is just that I wanted to hear Clarett’s story. In his own words.

As much as I love writing and the whole idea of reporting, it is stories like Clarett’s that make me want to scream when it comes to the way the media tends to portray athletes. Especially black athletes. Now, as a writer, I understand that the media is driven by what society wants to hear. Society thrives off negativity. However, there is a large portion of society that thrives off positivity and restoration. Those of us who thirst for the good in the world could be found with big smiles on our faces and tears streaming from some of our eyes at 11 o’clock Saturday night.

I can personally say I never had a really negative opinion about Clarett. Sure, I thought he made some horrible decisions. I thought he got tangled up with some people who were only concerned about what he could for them. I thought he had just given up on life and did not care that his life was spinning out of control. And when he was sentenced to jail time, I actually thought that may be the end for Clarett. His fall from grace had been a long one. And he hit the ground hard. And when he was released, it was to very little fanfare. And maybe that was for the best. From the time he was young, he was surrounded with fanfare. That can be overwhelming, for anyone.

Our society sets up kid’s like Clarett for failure, daily. We focus on their accomplishments on the field, court and diamond while forgetting to nurture their minds through learning.

I am glad Clarett was able to share his story. There were many things that happened that were NOT reported in the media. His story is admirable, impactful, honest, real and intriguing. It is stories like his that convince me on a daily basis that GOD is real. There is no one else that could have gone through what Clarett went through and still come out a winner. He was created specifically for this journey. His determination to turn his life around is more inspiring than anything he ever did on the gridiron. The endurance it took for him to reach the point he is at now will sustain him for years to come. Clarett has definitely gained a new fan and I look forward to the next chapter of his life.

P.S. His mom deserves her own 30 for 30. Talk about strength! There is nothing like a mother who NEVER gives up on her children. Phenomenal woman, she is.

You play to win the game!!!

Welp, unfortunately for the University of Alabama and Nicky Saban, that mentality cost them the game. Excuse me while I continue laughing. Finally!! So glad to see ‘Bama get knocked down. No one, absolutely no one, could have predicted that ending. Auburn scores with 36 seconds left. PAT to tie the game. ‘Bama’s TJ Yeldon manages to get to Auburn’s 39 yard line with one second left. Assuming ‘Bama would attempt the Hail Mary, Nicky shocked everyone by bringing in a redshirt freshman kicker who had only attempted two field goals this year. You play to win the game!! I would have gone for the Hail Mary though. So Adam Griffith lines up, ball falls short, right into the hands of Chris Davis. And that was all she wrote. GONE!!! Davis returned the missed field goal 100+ yards to do three things: 1) put Auburn into the SEC Championship game, 2)win the Iron Bowl and 3)assure that their cross-state neighbors would NOT three-peat as BCS Champions. GAME. SET. MATCH.

That is why I love this game!!!

Before, the Iron Bowl, most of us figured we had seen the craziest finish we would see all day when Ohio State narrowly escaped their rival, Michigan. The 110th meeting between the two, ended with Michigan playing to win the game. Down by one with 32 seconds left, Michigan Head Coach Brady Hoke stunned the college football world by going for the two point conversion instead of attempting the PAT to tie the game. Hey, you play to win the game!!! Plus Ohio State was running that ball down Michigan’s throats and stomachs. As you know by now, the ball was intercepted by Tyvis Powell and kept, what was at that point, Ohio State’s narrow dreams of playing for the BCS  Championship alive.  GAME. SET. MATCH.

That is why I love this game!!!

August First!!

You have to be a FOOTBALL FANATIC to understand the significance of AUGUST FIRST. For those of you who just do not get it, August First is the first day that college football teams can start officially practicing. August First marks the first day that a lot of high school teams across the country can begin officially practicing. August is the month when FOOTBALL SEASON officially begins!!!!!!!! Happy. Happy. Joy. Joy.

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Oh so random….

Oh, just a little glimpse of my current thoughts….

1. I am so ready for Sunday!!! My 9ers vs. Russell Wilson’s Seahawks!!! GO NINERRRRRRS!!! And don’t act surprised. I’m a Niners Faithful even if the opposing QB is a Wolfpack alum.

2. I still do not understand this whole shoe release phenomenon. Sleep is waaaaaaaaay too important to me to wait in the cold for some rubber and shoelaces.

3. I like RG3. Those braids, not so much.

4. The NHL should just cancel their whole season and focus on getting it together for next season. Got everybody “on ice.”

5. The Beef O’Brady’s Bowl is tonight. HAHAHAHAHA!

6. Before Sunday’s game, Adrian Peterson needed either 509 or 599(I think it was 599) to break Eric Dickerson’s single season rushing record. Some guys debated me and said he could not do it. I said he could. AP had 212 yards rushing Sunday. Guys still doubting me. SMH. Ya’ll gone learn!!

7. I have yet to watch an NBA game this season. I flip to TNT to see my man Sager!!!

8. Want a good workout? You Tube some MC Hammer videos and get your dance on. My thighs are still a little sore from that workout.

9. My nephew turns 3 tomorrow. Those years went by fast!!! HAPPY BIRFDAY BOODA!! Auntie loves you!!!

10. There is no 10. I only wanted to do 9 :-}.

If you are not following me on Twitter, do so!! The name is @KassieNette.

 

Until next time….TOODELLS!!

The old switcheroo…

Here we go again…

Before I went to sleep last night, I was skimming my Twitter timeline when my eyes landed on a tweet from SportsCenter “REPORT: ACC officials to vote on expansion candidates Wed. Louisville is most likely school to receive invite (via ACCSports.com).” My heart leaped for joy!! Not really. I rolled my eyes and said here we go again…

I am not sure if there is a word to express how annoying this realignment, musical chairs stuff is. For real. Almost every day there is talk of one school leaving this conference to go to another conference or this school does not want to pay this amount of money to leave their current conference. Talk about a mess!! Want to know what annoys me the most? The fact that this is all about MONEY. Surprising? Not at all. The decision makers could care less about tradition, alumni, the fans, etc. They are all playing switcheroo so they can see how much money they can make. Yes, athletic departments need money. Yes, institutions need money. Yes, the more money you have the more you can do for your school. However, society has become so money hungry that it is willing to sacrifice, at times, its integrity all because of a dollar or two.

Still not convinced this thing is money driven? In the college sports world, there are six major conferences: The Atlantic Coast Conference(ACC), the Big East Conference, the the Big 10 Conference, the Big 12 Conference, the Southeastern Conference(SEC) and the Pacific-12 Conference(Pac-12). Within the last two years, five out of the six conferences have either added or lost members due to the conference shuffle.

Lets take a look at the Big East, which I think will be extinct in a few years. As of today, the Big East consists of the University of Connecticut, Georgetown, St. John’s, Seton Hall, Syracuse, Rutgers, the University of Pittsburgh, Temple, the University of Cincinnati, DePaul, the University of Lousville, Marquette, the University of  South Florida and Notre Dame(in every sport except football). Louisville, Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Notre Dame have all jumped ship and are headed to the ACC. Rutgers is sailing to the Big 10. To compensate for the impending losses, the brilliant minds in the Big East have decided to add Boise State(yes, the school in Idaho), San Diego State, Southern Methodist(straight out of Texas)Houston, the University of Central Florida, the University of Memphis, Tulane, East Carolina(in football only) and Navy. Whew! Makes your head hurt right? I am just waiting to see a tweet announcing that the Big East is now the Big USA conference or the Coast to Coast with a stop in the midwest conference. That conference makes no sense whatsoever.

Want another example? The Big 12 which consists of Baylor, Iowa State, the University of Kansas, Kansas State University, the University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, the University of Texas, Texas Christian University, Texas tech University and West Virginia University. That is 10 schools for those of you keeping count. In 2011, the  University of Colorado and the University of Nebraska, bolted for the Pac-12 and Big 10, respectively. In 2012, the University of Missouri and Texas A&M left for the SEC. I fully expect the Big 12 to go after two more schools since they can not call themselves the Big 10, now can they?

This round robin, in my opinion, is putting a damper on college sports. Schools such as Texas A&M and the University of  Texas will no longer get to compete against each other year after year due to Texas A&M leaving the Big 12 to join the SEC. The ACC which had not lost a charter member since 1971, recently lost another when the University of Maryland decided to leave for the Big 10. High school athletes sometimes make decisions about where to go to school based on the conference they would play in. Etc. Etc. Etc. I could go on and on about why I wish a moratorium would be put in place when it comes to the switcheroo but I do not have the energy to do it. Plus I know my argument would just fall on death ears. So I will just sit back in The Korner, watching the money talk and secretly thanking them for giving me something to blog about, repeatedly. Insert sarcasm.

 

Until next time…TOODELLS.