Friday, September 24, 2021

Being aware of time and place, crucial for “off-season” athletes.

July 24, 2021 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Sports, Weekly Columns

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( There are only two teams left standing in the NBA as the Phoenix Suns and the Milwaukee Bucks play in the NBA Finals. Despite valiant efforts from the Clippers and Hawks, respectively, their players head into the off-season. Few professions in America get as long of a layoff from their main job responsibilities as professional athletes do, as they get months to recuperate, train, study, and most importantly, relax from a long professional sports season. The vast majority of professional athletes have off-seasons that don’t get on the radar of the public even though many athletes share parts of their off-season through social media. However, sometimes pro athletes make headlines that have nothing to do with their performances on the field, court, or rink. It is the part of being in the public eye that professional athletes must always be aware of especially as they have more time during their off-season.

Among the four major North American professional male sports leagues, the National Football League has been in its offseason the longest currently as the NHL has recently finished its championship series, the Stanley Cup Final. NFL athletes have had months to recover from the incredible physical demands of the NFL’s regular season and playoffs in which the last game, Super Bowl LV, was played all the way back on February 7, 2021. NFL training camps are almost here as teams prepare for the 2021 NFL season but there were two of the biggest names in the entire league that found themselves in the headlines for bad reasons during the NFL’s offseason period.



Los Angeles Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald is one of the most decorated players in all of the National Football League. He is a seven-time Pro Bowl selection, six-time All-Pro selection, and has won the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year award a record-tying three times. He is also a person who wears his heart on his sleeve as well. Months ago, back in April, Donald was accused of assault as an attorney for a 26-year-old man, De’Vincent Spriggs, filed a criminal complaint against him. According to the victim’s attorney, Todd J. Hollis, Spriggs inadvertently bumped into Donald and an incident ensued inside the Boom Boom Room nightclub that caused both parties to be asked to leave. Hollis told ESPN, “When they got outside, Mr. Donald approached Mr. Spriggs and Mr. Spriggs was punched and attacked, again allegedly, by Mr. Donald and the individuals that were a part of his group.” The Pittsburgh police got involved and Donald’s own attorney refuted that Donald assaulted Spriggs. Luckily, video evidence supported the claim that Donald didn’t attack Spriggs himself.  The attorney for DeVincent Spriggs said his client mistook his attacker for football star Aaron Donald.

Fortunately, the claims against Aaron Donald were dropped but it is important to mention that the alleged assault took place in an after-hours club around 3 a.m. Aaron Donald, like all adults, have a right to be in an after-hours club as long as they like but he is also a high-profile athlete who might be noticeable at 6”1 and 280 pounds and bigger than the average human being. Donald was the victim of a false accusation but it is also true that he put himself in a bad spot in terms of where he was and the time he was there. All professional sports have rookie symposiums or rookie transition programs, to educate them of the dangers of being in the public eye as a professional athlete that makes more money than the average American along with having a higher profile. They must always be aware that someone is always watching and recording them with the prevalence of smartphones so their interactions have to be extra calculated and smart and especially during the off-season with more “free time”.

Staff Writer; Mark Hines

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