Some Thoughts About Tyrann Mathieu’s Contract Extension

NFL, Uncategorized

 

Ever the skeptic of newfound media darlings, I didn’t buy into Tyrann Mathieu’s Honey Badger hype during his big breakout season at LSU in 2011. I respected the tenacity and his play style, sure, but from what I watched that year, it seemed like a lot of “right place, right time, ball bouncing into his lap” moments. The whole showboat pass incomplete motion look-at-me routine after every deflection or tackle wore thin quick as well.

His less than impactful showing in an embarrassing blowout loss to Alabama in the national championship game gave that perception some vindication. So that summer, I wrote an article for Bleacher Report where I said exactly what I felt at the time, Mississippi State’s Johnthan Banks was the SEC’s best corner, not Mathieu.

Tyrann didn’t seem to appreciate that opinion.

The next day, Mathieu went on one of his more infamous Twitter rants/tirades/meltdowns, which the man who “never bites his tongue” of course completely deleted afterwards.

It was captured by SBNation here.

These were the thoughts on the mind of Mathieu that day.

I AM THE BEST DEFENSIVE PLAYER IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL! bottom line as humble as i can say it! Stop comparing me, i am a diffrent breed!

IMMA SHOCK THE WORLD AGAIN THIS YEAR! WRITE IT DOWN, I SAID IT TODAY JULY 13, 2012!

& IM second to no one i play football it doesn’t matter what position i line up at i truly Ball HARD! ask them other players can they do it


how about all you sports writers label me overrated till you label me the greatest!is that a deal? Cool!


i never bite my tongue,….. its called freedom of speech


y’all better get y’all mind right, i will truly be legend before you write your next article on me!


but then again these writers ain’t down for you!!


YEAH IM SHORT (5’9) 186! gave up 4 catches in the NATIONAL championship GAME! anything else to lag on Haters?????? i’ll wait

It was big talk from the undersized DB. I mean, god forbid somebody wrote an honest opinion article that wasn’t just another ball washing piece about how he was reinventing defense or whatever it was most in the media were regurgitating at the time.

I’ll hand it to him, though, he sure shut me up. He went out in 2012 and had a truly legendary seaso…oh wait, that’s not right at all. Instead, he decided to get high on synthetic marijuana, get arrested, and get booted from the team. Then all of his fanboys in the media instantly turned on him and completely shunned him.

That’s the point where Mathieu could have joined the ranks of so many other college football stars who burned out just as fast as they shined and faded into obscurity before ever even making it to the big time.

But he didn’t.

He worked his ass off to right his wrongs, mature and make the most of what in its infancy looked to be the makings of a potentially promising football career.

I remember sitting with a friend of mine at Bleacher Report’s 2013 NFL draft party, watching night two of the draft unfold. I was surprised, even given his previous transgressions that Round 2 came and went without Tyrann’s name being called. My friend and I bantered for a bit about how neat it would be if Arizona picked him and had Patrick Peterson be his mentor.

Then pick 69 came, and the Cardinals made it happen.

Since that night, Mathieu has shown his gratitude for the franchise’s faith in him by doing what he does best: laying it all out on the field with reckless abandon and dedicating every inch of his being towards being the best player he can be.

Instead of hiding from them, he’s embraced the humbling events of his past, let them mold him and fuel his fury,  and chosen to go down the path of redemption. He’s sacrificed his body — he’s torn up ligaments in both of his knees in the past three years— and given his all to a team that was willing to shepard him in a desperate time of need.

Now, the Cardinals have decided to compensate him handsomely for his efforts by signing him to a five-year, $62.5-million deal.

When talking about teams signing homegrown stars to big long-term deals, there’s always that question of how much is it a reward for past accomplishments, and how much is it a true investment and expectation for the future?

In Mathieu’s case, it’s clear that the franchise sees the 24-year-old corner/safety hybrid as a key cornerstone of the franchise and an important defensive leader of the future.

Admittedly, I still think he’s a bit of a braggart, and a bit overly sensitive towards criticism sometimes. But looking at it from the perspective I do now, instead of the one I did when I wrote that Banks>Mathieu article, I get it.

He wears that chip on his shoulder and he wears it proudly. As much as he’s wanted to shake that image, Mathieu’s still the Honey Badger at heart. His world is one where fear doesn’t exist, and that’s what makes him such a dynamic must-watch playmaker.

You want to write a book about athletes who overcome adversity and find a way to make something of themselves, this is the guy. The cliff notes version is wild enough: father’s in jail for murder, raised by relatives, slighted by recruiting services and big-name programs for being too small, yet still breaks out and becomes a national star in college football’s premier powerhouse conference, then gets involved with drugs, gets kicked off the team, gets a shot to redeem himself and finally becomes a highly paid star in the NFL.

Looking back at that season at LSU, I guess I was wrong about that whole “right place, right time” thing. When you put in the work to put yourself in an advantageous spot, you deserve to receive the reward for your efforts and that’s exactly what Tyrann’s done.

Nike’s The Opening: Exhibition or Exploitation?

College Football Recruiting, Uncategorized

One could easily argue that a country’s most valuable resource and most important commodity is its youth. For the youth represents hope for a better tomorrow. It’s the possessor of the light passed down from the generations before it.

What the youth also represents, especially in a capitalist society, is the future of the culture of consumption, and a future potential source of profits.

The battle for control of America’s youth is a cutthroat fight, one that’s being waged by some of the world’s most powerful corporations, which recognize the importance of shaping young minds through campaigns centered around fostering ideology, and most importantly, building brand allegiance, disguising the element of commercial exposure as the freedom of choice.

One of the most important battlefields in that everlasting war is the apparel industry.

Within that contentious realm is the biggest slinger of heavy propaganda artillery, Nike, a company which, well, let’s say has always had somewhat of a suspect relationship with the world’s youth.

There’s no new ground to break in talking about the company’s abhorrent sweatshop labor practices, nor are there many revelations to uncover about its marketing tactics, which are mainly based around hawking exorbitantly priced sneakers to the young demographic who have had it blasted into their brains that it’s necessary to “Be Like Mike.”

Let’s tackle this “Opening” thing instead. 

This week, 166 of the best high school football players in the country will make the trek to the Pacific Northwest to bow at the altar of the Swoosh and take part in Nike’s The Opening ritual, which takes place at the company’s main campus headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon. It’s the culmination of a spring schedule that’s included numerous national regional combines and camps.

The highly touted prospects will be put through rigorous physical tests and assorted measurements of athletic prowess: dashes, leaps, shuttles, jumps and other drills. They’ll perform all these tasks while wearing the latest “hot, new, fresh” gear — born of the global supply chain — ranging from shirts, to shoes, to cleats, which Nike is readying to soon unleash and market to the masses.

The buzzword Nike will use to describe this event will be simple and to the point: Showcase.

It’s an opportunity to prove oneself against the best of the best on the grandest of stages, while clad in bright colored attire adorn with the symbols of the host.

Players will be expected to volunteer their perspective about the event in social media diary form on their own personal twitter accounts, without any compensation from Nike of course — maybe even tweet out a picture of the new gear to their followers if the mood strikes them.

The overarching backdrop of college football recruiting is a fitting one. You didn’t have to watch the 30 For 30 about Sonny Vaccaro to know that this is what that is: Recruiting.

“Get the young kids,” is how Sonny eloquently put it.

You can’t help but wonder what type of clever hashtag campaigns a marketing genius like Vaccaro would have thought of if he was in his prime today. Vaccaro may have grown old, but the kids have stayed the same age. Their enthusiasm remains as well.

The desire to escape into a better life, a life where one is rewarded for their skills and properly compensated for all their efforts on the field will always exist.

Today’s world is today’s world.

Today’s world is one in which blue-chip recruits tag apparel companies in their tweets.

https://twitter.com/TheTateMartell/status/736966964644446208

Today’s world is one in which the military industrial complex uses celebrated high school athletes as pawns in its propaganda machine.

swoo

Today’s world is one in which recruits compete in 7-on-7 tournaments as members of  teams named after a cleat, for free, because in today’s world, the participants aren’t just the consumers; they are the marketing tools as well.

So here we are, about to witness another group’s transition from innocent raw talent into something else — a unification ceremony of ideals that may just be a bit beyond their current level of comprehension. Maybe it’s even beyond the grasp of the viewers as well.

The idea of being a willing participant in the marketing spectacle is certainly up for debate.

What separates man from mannequin?

Should exposure be treated as a currency?

What’s the value of the exchange?

Where’s the line between exhibition and exploitation?

An easy answer to those complicated questions in this new age of social media evolving as the dominant new platform is that the lines are becoming even more blurred than usual.

There are no more definitive answers when it comes to the question of morality concerning relationships between major global brands and athletes, especially those on the younger end of the spectrum. More thoughts about the medium of the message and its participants and questions about the process are undoubtedly necessary.

So ask we must.

Mutual benefit between both parties is supposed to be the ultimate goal, isn’t it?

The audience, not the participant, is left to judge if that’s truly the case.

Only one thing’s for sure now: We’re all exposed.

Let’s watch and see what happens.

2016 NFL Draft: Updated Running Back Rankings After Combine Workouts

2016 NFL Draft, Uncategorized

Following the conclusion of each day of the 2016 NFL Combine, prospect rankings for every position group that performed that day will be updated and published. These version of player rankings will include only players at the position that were invited to Indianapolis.

Here’s a look at the updated prospect rankings, including the top five overall prospects, for the running backs following their workouts at the 2016 NFL Combine. Physical measurements and results from every test that the top five players participated in are included.

Remember to Follow Gridiron Perspective on Twitter @GridironP

College Football 2016: Preseason Power-5 All-Conference Teams

College Football, Uncategorized

 

The upcoming NFL Combine will serve as a showcase for the top prospects in the 2016 NFL draft. Sadly, it will also serve as a reminder for college football fans about just how much star power departed for the pros this offseason.

Although many of the top performers from the 2015 season have left campus, fortunately, there’s still plenty of quality talent remaining at the collegiate level.

Returning standouts such as Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey, Clemson QB Deshaun Watson, Florida State RB Dalvin Cook, Texas A&M DE Myles Garrett and LSU RB Leonard Fournette have already ascended to star status and become household names. Plus, there are plenty of other young, up-and-coming potential breakout stars who are waiting to make a name for themselves as well this fall.

Here’s a look at the top impact players from each of the Power-5 conferences who are most deserving of preseason “All-Conference” accolades for the 2016 season.

Henry, McCaffery and Watson Announced as 2015 Heisman Finalists

2015 Heisman, College Football, College Football 2015, Uncategorized

The stretch run of the 2015 Heisman race will include just three contenders: Alabama RB Derrick Henry, Stanford RB Christian McCaffery and Clemson QB Deshaun Watson.

Though he’s not a true slam-dunk no-brainer pick to win the award, Henry will arrive in New York City as the presumptive favorite, following a regular season campaign in which he totaled over 2,000 yards of offense and scored 23 touchdowns for the No. 2-ranked Tide.

Watson and McCaffery are both viable candidates as well. The Clemson QB is the face of the No. 1-ranked undefeated Tigers, while Stanford’s do-it-all playmaker—who ranks first nationally with 286 all-purpose yards per game—propelled the Cardinal to 11 wins and a Pac-12 title.

Thoughts on the Victor Cruz Self-Promotion Commotion

NFL, Uncategorized

It’s perfectly fine for Victor Cruz to promote himself as a football player/emerging fashion icon.

It’s also perfectly fine for Giants fans to be annoyed by Cruz for not fulfilling his obligations as a player while still openly flaunting his desire to build his “off-the field brand” in numerous interviews, commercials, social media posts and most notably his new Showtime documentary I Am Giant.

Last month, Haute Living—an upscale “luxury living” magazine—did an in-depth profile on the receiver entitled The All American Victor Cruz.

In the interview, which tends to focus much more on Cruz’s interests outside of football—namely fashion—than his interest in the sport itself, sentences such as these appeared.

“Cruz is a wide receiver in more ways than just football.”

 

Football is not the only venture that the New Jersey Millennial has on his very full plate.”

 

“Don’t be surprised if in five years you see my own brand out there,” he reveals. For this ambitious football star, salsa dancer and fashion icon, this seems par for the course.”

Being an athlete with diversified interests outside of the sport you play is great. But in Cruz’s case, his top obligation is to the organization that’s paying him millions and providing him with the initial platform from which all of those extra money-making opportunities stem from.

Unfortunately, injuries have prevented him from fulfilling his obligation to his team, yet they certainly haven’t stopped him from continuing to build his personal brand.

Fans wanted to see the undrafted free agent turned pro bowler back out on the field, creating exciting plays and helping a somewhat struggling 5-5 squad turn its season around. Instead, they were treated to a cologne pitchman declaring that he won’t be playing this season in an ill-timed video that came on the heels of a gut-wrenching loss to the Patriots.

Some responded to the news by showing support, some expressed frustration, while many wondered if it meant his days in a Giant uniform may be over.

It seems like Cruz’s welcome may be worn out in New York. You know what isn’t worn out, though?

The soles of the hundreds of pairs of shoes he has in his Sneaker Closet, which includes his very own NKE AIR TRAINER CRUZ “HAYSTACK” which will be available to purchase on Nov. 20 for only $150.

You can’t begrudge Cruz for creating a life for himself away from the field. But it’s easy to see why some Giant fans have been rubbed the wrong way by his constant self-promotion, especially since it’s come during a period when he’s collected millions for being simply a spectator, just like them.

Pac-12 Football: 5 Players Who Are Ready to Become Stars in 2015

Uncategorized

Scooby Wright, Devontae Booker, Su’a Cravens, Hau’oli Kikaha, Royce Freeman, Ishmael Adams and Nelson Spruce are just a few of the Pac-12 players who put together a breakthrough performance in 2014.

As we now turn our attention to the 2015 season, it’s time to begin forecasting which players are primed to have their own breakout campaigns this fall.

Here’s a look at five players who seem bound for stardom in 2015.