Soylent Football

Posted: May 19th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 31 Comments »

Football is made of people!!! Of people!!!

Too often we forget that football players are people. Real live human beings. We see a fringe player cut and the reaction is “big deal…he sucked anyway”.  Or a guy is signed and he’s “just a camp body”.

Those statements are often true, but do need to be put in context. We’re talking about the lives of young men. Since we only know them as a backup defensive linemen or the 5th string QB, it isn’t a big deal. To those young men, their time in the NFL is a huge deal, whether measured in weeks or years. They’ve worked for years and dreamed of making it in the NFL. If they make it, that’s great…a dream fulfilled. If the player fails, at least he knows that he had a chance to make his dreams come true. What to us is a minor transaction, to them is a life-changing event.

Let’s look at some individuals from the world of football, young and old.

Ronnie Cameron was recently cut by the Eagles. He was a backup DT/DE. I don’t know if Ronnie has NFL ability, but he is a young man with a bright future. Chris McPherson wrote an excellent piece on Ronnie for Read that and you’ll understand that he’s not your typical football player. As an Eagles fan, I’m disappointed that he didn’t pan out for the team. The world might be better off if he’s able to put all his time and effort into other things. It will be interesting to follow him and see what happens with Ronnie. Give him a follow on Twitter.

The flip side of this is Rolando McClain. He is “retiring” after just a few years in the NFL. There is no question about McClain’s NFL ability. Coming out of Alabama, I thought he had the size, athleticism, instincts, and playmaking ability to be a star LB. His time in Oakland was a mixture of big plays and big problems. McClain was cut this spring and signed with the Ravens. He then got into trouble down in his hometown in Alabama and decided to retire. I don’t know McClain. I don’t have any inside info on him. I can say from afar that he is a troubled young man. McClain might be doing the smart thing in stepping away from football. He needs to get his head right and his life in order. The one concern is whether he’ll surround himself with the right people so that he can pull that off. If he’s hanging out with sycophants and people who are there for his money, McClain isn’t likely to turn things around.

Remember Cecil Martin, the FB from early in the Reid era? He’s spending a lot of time in England, helping to grow the game of football over there. Football was a godsend for Martin. The crazy story with him is that he was living in a homeless shelter with his family while being recruited by colleges. Martin went to Wisconsin and then had a solid NFL career. He’s now a football ambassador, so to speak. You can follow Cecil on Twitter.

The NFL will never be as international as the NBA in terms of players, but it is a growing segment. Just think of the recent draft. Ziggy Ansah came from Ghana. Menelik Watson came from the UK. Margus Hunt came from Estonia. These guys were high picks. There were others beyond them. The best English athletes (insert joke here) are still more likely to choose Manchester United over the Minnesota Vikings, but football is making progress. There is already a dedicated site for the Eagles run by British fans. I give Cecil Martin all the credit.

Speaking of Eagles FBs…Kevin Turner continues his battle with ALS. Kevin had a terrific NFL career, but his body took a pounding. The question is whether that pounding has anything to do with his condition. Some think there is a link between football players and ALS. Kevin is holding a local golf tournament in early June. The even will be at Medford Village Country Club in Medford, NJ on June 2-3. You can go here for some details. Support Kevin and his cause if you can. He’s a genuinely good guy dealing with a horrible situation.

If you can’t support Kevin’s golf tournament, you can interact with him on Twitter. He loves hearing from fans. Give him a follow and just let him know you’re an Eagles fan that remembers him. That stuff seems to mean a lot to him. Moral support goes a long way when you’re dealing with something like ALS. It may only take you a minute or two to send a message, but you never know how much that can mean to someone who is having a bad day. I lost a family member to ALS. There are a lot of bad days.

One final person of note is a guy I didn’t know much about…former Jets WR George Sauer. He died recently and there was an interesting story in the New York Times about him. Sauer was a talented player, but he didn’t care for all the BS that goes along with playing football. He played in an era when coaches were  were true control freaks. They ruled with an iron fist. It was their way or the highway. So Sauer chose the highway.

Football isn’t for everyone. You spend a week practicing to go play one game. Practice is long and hard. Coaches can be bullies and perfectionists, always a fun combination. Football is hard. It isn’t a surprise at all that someone like Sauer grew tired of the NFL life and walked away.

Sorry for the heavy subject, but I do think it is important from time to time to reflect on the fact these guys are real people, not just characters in the NFL world. I’ll be back with normal stuff either tonight or tomorrow morning.


31 Comments on “Soylent Football”

  1. 1 micksick said at 1:40 PM on May 19th, 2013:

    Good article.

    You almost ready with those momah vs northwestrn highlights? lol

    by the time you post them momah could be cut lol

  2. 2 TommyLawlor said at 1:43 PM on May 19th, 2013:

    Working on it. Tricky taking something from DVD to computer and then to YouTube. I’m about halfway done. Planning to work on it more today.

  3. 3 micksick said at 1:55 PM on May 19th, 2013:

    awesome! Cant wait! Was he impressive?

  4. 4 ICDogg said at 6:16 PM on May 19th, 2013:

    He was like the Big Indian in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

  5. 5 micksick said at 7:28 PM on May 19th, 2013:


  6. 6 nathalie a said at 1:57 PM on May 19th, 2013:

    This is normal stuff. There have been many instances at the eeb where I tried to voice such views. But the audience is a tough one. The standard manly virile macho fan doesn’t want to hear that these are not robots putting out a show for his sole pleasure.

    Oh well.

  7. 7 TommyLawlor said at 5:31 PM on May 19th, 2013:

    We are walking a fine line. The players aren’t victims. They have gotten glory in HS and college. They’ve gotten scholarships to college. They’re getting good money in the NFL. Even guys on the PS make $5K a week. It took me 3 months to make that kind of money when first out of college.

    I still think taking the time to realize these are real people is a good thing. I can’t imagine living under a microscope. That’s incredibly difficult. It is also odd for us to judge their lives on how it affects our football team.

  8. 8 nathalie a said at 1:59 PM on May 19th, 2013:

    To the defense of the basic fan, the nfl does everything to de-humanise it’s players. See for instance the meat market that is the combine. No comment.

  9. 9 TommyLawlor said at 5:33 PM on May 19th, 2013:

    The Combine is a glorious event. Players are allowed to fly to lovely Indianapolis every February for a short vacation. All they have to do is run 40 yards and pass a pee test. This should be the highlight of their football careers. Indy is glorious in late Feb., assuming you love rain/sleet/snow and a nice breeze.

  10. 10 nathalie a said at 1:59 PM on May 19th, 2013:

    Its *

  11. 11 Septhinox said at 2:10 PM on May 19th, 2013:

    Good stuff Tommy. True story, I once had a try out with the Bengals and never even went. After spending years of high school, college, and then semi pro, I never went. I would love to have been “just a camp body”. Sigh.

    The stupid tings you do as a youth. haha

  12. 12 TommyLawlor said at 2:46 PM on May 19th, 2013:

    Youth is wasted on the young.

  13. 13 Kushan Patel said at 10:56 PM on May 19th, 2013:

    Wisdom is wasted on the old.

  14. 14 TommyLawlor said at 11:36 PM on May 19th, 2013:

    Nicely played.

  15. 15 bridgecoach said at 2:16 PM on May 19th, 2013:

    Great article. Cudos to you for your leadership in expanding the depth of our Eagles community.

  16. 16 TommyLawlor said at 5:34 PM on May 19th, 2013:

    Thank you sir.

  17. 17 EaglesJRL said at 2:18 PM on May 19th, 2013:

    Nice article Tommy. I know you said “some think” regarding the correlation between repeated blows to the head and ALS, but really the evidence is pretty overwhelming.

  18. 18 TommyLawlor said at 2:46 PM on May 19th, 2013:

    I didn’t take the time research that angle. Read about it in the past, but not recently.

  19. 19 ACViking said at 3:48 PM on May 19th, 2013:

    Re: George Sauer, Jr.


    Wonderful post.

    Here’s a couple of footnotes on Sauer.

    His father was not only a football coach, but he’d been an All American running back himself at Nebraska in the early ’30s. So for Sauer the Younger, after spending the afternoon with one iron-fisted coach, he’d come come home to another one — and one who’d played the game at a high level.

    Seems Sauer the Younger was always wrestling with the establishment. He played for the legendary Darrell Royal at U-Texas, who red-shirted Sauer his sophomore season. So Sauer — instead of staying to play at UT as a fifth-year senior — quit the Longhorns and signed a contract with the Jets.

    No surprise that Sauer joined the Jets because his father was already in the team’s front office as head of pro personnel.

    Sauer’s retirement coincided with the Jets’ slide into mediocrity — along with Namath’s repeated injuries, the Jets inability to replace the likes of FB Matt Snell, HB Emerson Boozer, OT Winston Hill, MLB Al Atkinson (from Villanova) . . . and another iconoclast like Sauer at CB named Johnny Sample.

  20. 20 TommyLawlor said at 5:35 PM on May 19th, 2013:

    Interesting glimpse into Sauer’s life.

  21. 21 ACViking said at 4:10 PM on May 19th, 2013:

    Re: George Hegamin’s Worst Nightmare

    During Andy Reid’s first training camp as Eagles’ HC, an OT named George Hegamin — signed away from the ‘Boys as a free agent in ’98 — left camp.

    But he returned a couple days later. And Reid humiliated him by having Hegamin stay after practice and push the blocking sled up and down the field. Reid kept Hegamin all through camp — then cut him.

    Reid was a new HC and wanted to set the boundaries. Hegamin was a young man who, maybe like Geo. Sauer, was struggling to find internal motivation needed to play pro football. Reid exploited that.

    T-Law . . . your post puts a different light on the Hegamin incident. And not one that reflects well on AR.

    But I’d guess Reid — like most football coaches would say — if you’re not committed to and love the game, go home.

    Hegamin, by the way, played two more years for the Bucs and then moved back to Dallas, where ironically Hegamin’s been a high school football coach.

  22. 22 TommyLawlor said at 5:38 PM on May 19th, 2013:

    There is a need for discipline. Sometimes tough love is what players need to help them realize the seriousness of the situation. It would be interesting to hear Hegamin’s thoughts on the situation. Did that help or hurt him?

  23. 23 Steven Dileo said at 4:55 PM on May 19th, 2013:

    Good article. A lot of times people (especially on sports radio) read too much into what is said during a press conference. Most of the time athletes try to be as politically correct as they can, move on, and don’t provide much insight. You can’t blame them for being this way because when there is a slip up things get blown up out of proportion. McNabb’s comment of “showing youth” was discussed and analyzed more than it should have. It was the only thing being discussed on sports radio and when you heard what was being said, you would have thought that McNabb was the spawn of Satan.

    When Lebron James lost in the Finals and told his critics that they will have to go back to their crappy lives, I felt kind of bad for him. Even though he is a multimillionaire and a handsome dude in top physical shape, he was still a 25 year old human being who took a lot of criticism and was labeled as a choker, a fraud, a traitor.

    Fans take their sports too seriously and expect too much out their athletes. Why can’t they just watch the games, discuss the game and not get into personal attacks?

  24. 24 RC5000 said at 5:32 PM on May 19th, 2013:

    Maysonet supposedly getting cut according to Caplan tweet but it was crowded back there – it’s easy to forget about Tucker.

  25. 25 A_T_G said at 8:12 PM on May 19th, 2013:

    Great article, Tommy. Of course I now feel like a tool for hoping to read about some minor, bottom of the roster changes when I saw there was a new article posted, but a reminder about the person, and their brain, inside the helmet is very appropriate as we begin to guess which 40 guys on the roster are not going to be Eagles week 1.

  26. 26 bennyb6968 said at 9:36 PM on May 19th, 2013:

    As always you have a unique approah that sits well with most Eagle fans. We sometimes get lost in all the hoopla that is the NFL and easily forget about the poor souls that squander away or just didn’t play good enough to make it.
    I am glad to see how your heart is put into every article you write.
    I check sometimes twice a day to see what new interesting morsel is Tommy writing about. Maybe someday we’ll hang out and have a beer. Your a good egg Tommy. Don’t ever change.

  27. 27 Flyin said at 10:43 PM on May 19th, 2013:

    Tommy you are our “big toe”.

  28. 28 TommyLawlor said at 11:36 PM on May 19th, 2013:

    I’d rather be Ox.

  29. 29 Brendan Ekstrom said at 1:31 AM on May 20th, 2013:

    This is a thought I’ve had many times over the years. It seems fairly obvious that these athletes could be spoken of with at least a modicum of compassion yet the media tends to refer to them more often as a commodity than as people, especially the players who aren’t elite. I’ve often wondered how much some of these athletes follow the media. I’ve seen dozens of interviews where players say they “don’t pay attention to that stuff” but it can’t always be easy especially when some of the rumors flying have to do with job security for these men. For some of these guys they’d have to stay off sports networks all together. I’ve been in a fairly successful band for ten years and I decided to stop reading reviews, articles, and most fan commentary a long time ago. One offhand comment can ruin someone’s day. And that’s just some 16 year old kid saying I suck. I can’t imagine having to deal with rumors by actual reporters that someone else might take my place as guitar player on the next tour. Writers, and fans, myself included, seem to be quick to forget that whatever career path a person has chosen they are the only ones who know how much passion and hard work they’ve put into making it a reality.
    By the way I know jimmy is your boy and I respect him and enjoy his work, (and humor most of the time), but interestingly enough, the most recent time I thought about all of this was when he took that Travis Frerderick pick to town. I know that the actual joke is really on the cowboys, which is always 100% ok with me, but in the back of my mind I just kept picturing that kid hearing that podcast or seeing those tweets. I imagine the sentiment that he wasn’t worth that pick is everywhere now, especially in Dallas. That must be brutal on someone that age. Thinking about that makes me hope these guys really do keep themselves out of the media.
    Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you. It’s nice to hear a writer make this point. I find myself losing track of it sometimes, usually right around kickoff when I immediately want our guys to knock the living shit out of their guys.

  30. 30 CTAZPA said at 7:38 AM on May 20th, 2013:

    When nobody commented on the title, I googled. How do you have time to watch all these movies and write the articles?

    Soylent Green is Eagles Green?

  31. 31 James Adair said at 10:00 AM on May 21st, 2013:

    When I first saw the title I was concerned about the ingredients in those smoothies! 🙂