John Thompson Used Basketball To Teach Legendary Character

The word legendary tends to be thrown around too often, but John Thompson Jr. – the legendary coach of Georgetown University who passed away on August 31st – is certainly a man fitting of that title. Thompson, who was 78 years old, was a premier coach and a pioneer who became the first black coach to win the NCAA championship when he led the Hoyas to the mountaintop of the sport in 1984.

‘Big John’ as he was known to players and fans was much more than just a coach. Hired to coach Georgetown in 1972 it was seen as something of a radical appointment at that time to place the future of a traditionally white Jesuit University in the hands of a black coach. Fighting through racism and abuse – something that he would champion the cause against all the way through his life – this premier coach was in charge of the Hoyas for 27 seasons and despite his on court success it was his work off the court that should be pointed out to show the love and resiliency of his character.

This tweet from Allen Iverson, a player that Thompson mentored and coached for two years at Georgetown between 1994 and 1996, shows the type of bond that Big John would form with the student athletes under his leadership:

“Thanks For Saving My Life Coach.  I’m going to miss you, but I’m sure that you are looking down on us with a big smile.  I would give anything just for one more phone call from you only to hear you say, “Hey MF”, then we would talk about everything except basketball . . .”

Iverson is a perfect example of Thompson’s willingness to work with players coming from difficult backgrounds. The future multiple time NBA All-Star was blackballed from a lot of the top schools in the country because he had three felony convictions hanging over his head relating to a brawl he was involved in at a bowling alley while in high school.

While many of the college bluebloods shied away from Iverson, Thompson went all in on the Hampton, Va. product. Thompson knew he was getting a gifted athlete for his program, but more than that he realized he could make a huge difference in the life of a young man who needed the vital guidance and life coaching that he could provide.  In 2016, Iverson was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame – a place where his bust stands alongside that of Thompson – a place that Iverson has said countless times that he would never have reached without Big John in his corner for all those intervening years.

Iverson is the most well-known story of the type of man that Thompson is, but there are countless tales of such character and drive to make everyone be the best person in life that they can possibly be that Big John formed in locker rooms, over the phone, and during his coaching sessions throughout his storied career. As a coach, he took Georgetown to three Final Fours and seven Big East titles in the 1980s, along with leading the US to a bronze medal in the 1988 Olympics – the last Olympics before NBA players made winning a medal a much easier prospect for a coach at that level.

Along with Iverson, Thompson recruited and developed three other Hall of Famers in Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning, and Dikembe Mutombo. He was a coach that wasn’t afraid to recruit minority players regardless of the upbringing, and he famously walked off the court in a 1989 game to protect Proposition 42, an NCAA measure that he saw as an aim to limit scholarships – and therefore life altering opportunities – to minority students.

Thompson’s legacy is secure. He is a coach that would stand up for what he believed in, would fight against social inequality, and who would win more than his fair share of basketball games. He will remain an inspirational figure long after this date.

Article by Premier Players

Makur Passes On Basketball Powerhouse Colleges To Play At Howard

For decades the route to the NBA for premier players in high school basketball has been pretty clear. Attend a blue blood program for as little time as a possible – or skip college entirely if you were a Kobe or a LeBron and were in the era when immediate eligibility was an option – and declare for the draft at the first opportunity.

Recently, however, there has been something of a change in how this process works. It started with high schoolers not interested in attending college using their one-year post-high school and before NBA Draft eligibility to play professionally. This began with players leaving the country – Terrance Ferguson, RJ Hampton and LaMelo Ball all went to Australia – or choosing to simply take a year off and train while knowing that they won’t be hurting their draft stock one bit.

These moves and decisions were ones players chose for themselves and for their own good. There is obviously nothing wrong with that, but earlier this month a 5-star prospect made a college decision that was about so much more than self-interest and improving his draft stock. On Friday, July 3, Makur Maker announced that he was passing on the likes of UCLA, Kansas and Kentucky to attend school at Howard University.

It is hard to put this premier player’s choice of college into any type of recent context. Howard – one of the historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) – does not get commitments from a player of Makur’s talent and potential. The same can be said for any of the HBCUs. A top-50 player committing to play in the MEAC has been unheard of for over half a century and in the times we currently live the choice of Makur to go to Howard couldn’t feel any more culturally significant.

Makur – an athlete who is from South Sudan in Central Africa – said the following in a recent interview published by The Undefeated. “The reason behind my decision? I dare to be different, and I always consider myself to be a leader. I want to change the current culture and climate that has kept five-star athletes like myself from viewing HBCUs as a viable choice. I have no idea why it’s been over 40 years that not even one five-star basketball player in the United States has decided to play basketball at an HBCU. But I do know that, in this Black Lives Matter movement that’s empowered and assembled many different people across the country and the world, that it won’t be another 40 years until it happens again.”

Maker is a legit 7-footer who is the No. 17 overall prospect in the class of 2021 per the 247Sports Composite Rankings. Seeing a player of that level pledge to Howard shook the very foundations of what we know about college basketball – and perhaps even college sports in general – to its core. The next question is if this is a one-off as Maker makes a stand that no other premier players follow, or if it becomes a trend where 4-star and 5-star black athletes choose to spend a year at a HBCU to immerse in cultural diversity and raise the profiles of such schools on a national level.

It will take a few recruiting cycles to see if there is any real change in play here. Maker – as good as he is as a player – is not a significant voice on the AAU circuit that younger players look up to. For that we would turn to class of 2023 prospect Mikey Williams, a player with the world at his feet who is also said to be considering a one year stint at a HBCU before collecting NBA money. The 15-year-old tweeted about attending a HBCU even before Maker took the plunge and his presence on the floor of a HBCU in the winter of 2023 would absolutely mean that the world of college basketball for premier players has taken a sudden and socially significant turn.

 

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Fake Crowds Takeover Stadiums But No Match For Real Fans

When history is written about 2020 it will be known as the year of many things. One of those things – admittedly a few chapters into the books as something of a footnote – will be that 2020 was the year of the fake crowd.

It is hard to explain just how weird the concept of a fake crowd for a sporting event would have sounded at the back end of 2019. We love our premier players, be they on the diamond, the court, the rink, or the field. While fans aren’t the reason sports exist, they are the main reason that they matter to anyone other than the players involved. Sports without fans makes about as much sense as fans without sports, but that is the world we are living in today.

Sports in America are a little behind the curve when it comes to opening up. This is understandable given the size of the country, the distribution of people, and the number of ongoing cases. This means that the leagues in the US will have had time to watch the various methods of atmosphere creation around the world to see what has worked best to date.

In order to help out the NFL/NBA/Et Al, here are some random thoughts about which league has done the best job of giving its premier players and fans at home a decent experience amongst the madness of 2020.

Actually having a crowd

This first concept might be cheating a little bit but it is pretty obvious that the best thing a league can do to have an authentic experience is to actually have an authentic experience. New Zealand has to be seen as the pioneers of this strategy as 41,000 packed inside Eden Park to watch the Blues vs. the Chiefs as their Super Rugby Aotearoa competition got underway at the beginning of June. This strategy only works because the disease was eradicated – at one point at least – in the county, but it is worth watching to remember just what we have to look forward to in terms of an experience somewhere down the line.

Sponsor Banners

I mean these are ok. I get why they are there as it allows teams down on revenue to pull a little more out of their sponsors for more exposure while also covering up empty seating that just looks bad. It is effective, efficient, but a little boring. It is hard to believe that the premier players out there would even notice the existence of tarps all over the stadium, but I get it.

Fake Crowd Noise

This is where opinions start to differ. The basic options for fans at home – because premier players competing get nothing but eerie silence – is to have fake sounds piped on top of the broadcast or to have nothing and listen purely to the communication and chatter out on the field. The PGA has mic-upped their golfers and watching Australian rugby with no noise did allow fans to hear just how hard the players are getting hit in that sport. Getting the balance right here has proven to be difficult, with the noise often underwhelming compared to the action. It’s still early so watch this space.

CGI Crowds

They look terrible right now but these have promise. La Liga in Spain tried it first and it looked awful, like blotchy colors on a weak background. Maybe by the time the NFL returns the league can get some of the big CGI companies onto this and have crowds that actually look like they are real people for those watching at home.

Cardboard Cut Outs

The NRL in Australia allowed fans to pay to have their cardboard cutout placed in a random spot in the stadium for at least the first 10 weeks of the season. While their quality control wasn’t ideal early on with some notorious figures slipping through the cracks, this might be my favorite fake crowd yet. The cutouts are vivid and large, plus it is always fun to spot the random pet dog or bird in the stands with their very own cutouts.

Stuffed Animals

Never mind. This wins. Korean League Baseball nailed it with hoards of stuffed animals behind home plate. This is officially the best take from a terrible situation as it is impossible to not be happy seeing the tapestry of madness that the pitcher is looking at when winding up.

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Marcus Rashford Puts In The Hard Work For His Team & Humanity

The sports scene in England is not particularly politically minded. That is in stark contrast to the American sports landscape in 2020 where players are using their platforms more than they have in decades. That is not to say, however, that every premier player in England have used this lockdown period for nothing more than workouts and video games, and one such player is Manchester United star striker Marcus Rashford.

Rashford, at the tender age of just 22-years-old, has emerged as a star of the Covid-19 lockdown period in the United Kingdom. He is a player used to making a big impression, having scored on his debut for one of the biggest clubs in world football in 2016 at the age of 18. Since then, Rashford has gone from strength to strength as a premier player on the pitch, quickly becoming the most important attacking player for the Red Devils and also shining for England when given a chance as part of a dynamic and youthful forward lineup.

As impressive as he has been on the pitch over the course of four years, the last few months Rashford has been even more impressive off of it. The son of a single mother, Rashford was a soccer prodigy who was never afraid of hard work and never allowed to cruise along on talent alone. If soccer didn’t work out, Rashford was always going to be in a position to succeed in life thanks to his work ethic and drive.

It is that drive that has seen Rashford’s profile rise in the last few months from a generic, multi-millionaire soccer player who is only in it for himself into a social activist fighting for the every man. Not only has Rashford helped raise millions in donations for the food charity FoodShare, but he has also learned sign language to add another string to his bow and he has launched a poetry competition for deaf children that he seems extremely passionate about.  When you add in his powerful stance and message on racial equality in England in the wake of the George Floyd death and his charitable efforts to counter homelessness in December, then you start to get a sense of just how much Rashford understands that his position and celebrity status can be used for good.

Rashford’s most powerful action yet came in the middle of June where he was able to singlehandedly reverse a decision taken by the UK government on what to do about free school meals during the six-week summer vacation. Initially taking no action, the government quickly created a $150 million fund to provide food shopping vouchers to the families of Britain’s poorest children this summer.

The youngest of five children and raised below the poverty line himself, Rashford wrote an open letter to the government that was so powerful this premier player had members of parliament threatening to revolt against Prime Minister Boris Johnson if no scheme was announced. “The system was not built for families like mine to succeed, regardless of how hard my mum worked,” he wrote, before adding: “This is not about politics; this is about humanity.”

It is not his pace, his vision, or his goal-scoring ability that is Rashdford’s best asset. Instead, and perhaps unexpectedly to some given how athletes are sometimes viewed because of their lofty salaries and expensive cars, it is his humanity that has set him apart as a leader during this crisis. Rashford is a product of his generation and his 8.4 million Instagram followers give him a platform to be heard. With at least 10 more years of playing at the top level, Rashford is a player that fans of any team can root for thanks to his upbringing, his spirit and his heart.

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Howard’s Andres Gomez Makes The Exclusive MLS SuperDraft List

WASHINGTON (June 3, 2020) – Howard University rising senior Carolyn Williams had an opportunity to speak with midfielder Andres Gomez (Silver Spring, Md.) from the men’s soccer team, asking 10 questions for the 2019-20 Senior Profile series.

Q: What’s your favorite part about soccer?
A: Soccer is a sport that’s not forgiving, which is my favorite part. The amount of effort put in behind-the-scenes is the same amount you’ll see on game day. You’ll reach your full potential if you put in the time and work.

Q: How did you get started playing soccer?
A: Well, a key part of Colombian culture is soccer. So, I grew up watching the World Cup and the Champions League where I fell in love with sport. At that time, I knew soccer was what I wanted to play.

Q: What keeps you motivated to continue with soccer?
A: Scoring a goal is an incredible feeling that’s unmatched. Celebrating with your teammates after driving the ball past a goalie is indescribable. The preparation of practicing 6,000 times for that moment is fulfilling. The sport rewards hard work and dedication, that’s what keeps me motivated to continue playing.

Q: If you were not competing in soccer, what other sport would you play?
A: If I didn’t compete in soccer, I would have chosen cross country. Both sports require running and endurance and I think I’ve gotten pretty good with those characteristics. So, I think cross country would be a good fit.

Q: Who is your favorite athlete and why?
A: My favorite athlete is Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo because he’s the standard. On the field, he has speed, strength, endurance, and tremendous footwork with the ability to lead his team to victory. I admire someone who can do this on a consistent basis.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?
A: Once the dust settles after the pandemic and with God’s will, I’m looking to play professionally overseas in Europe.

Q: What or who will you miss at Howard?
A: I’ll miss the great times playing with my teammates. For me, serving as team captain was a big responsibility and I was honored to be the captain for an amazing team. Also, playing and representing a prestigious institution was one of the best experiences in my life.

Q: What advice would you give future Bison?
A: My advice for future Bison is to never settle for mediocracy, always strive and fight for what you believe in.

Q: Who would you like to thank?
A: I would like to thank Coach Phillip Gyau (Howard men’s soccer head coach) for always believing in me from the beginning while giving me the opportunity to grow as a person on and off the field.

About Gomez
Andres Gomez was a four-year member of the men’s soccer team where he played in 49 contests, racking up 31 total points, 14 goals and three assists.

In his final season, he led the nation in shot accuracy (70-percent) while earning Sun Belt All- Conference First Team. Gomez made the exclusive 2020 Major League Soccer SuperDraft list, ranking him among the top eligible players coming out of college.

The DMV native plans to graduate in the summer with a bachelor’s degree in business. After graduation, he plans to pursue a professional career overseas in Europe.

For more information, visit the Bison Athletics website at www.HUBison.com Photo by Rodney Pierce.

NBA Explores Ways To Get Their Premier Players Back In The Game

It is one of those sports topics that is sure to come up as a trivia question in 20 or 30 years’ time if it goes ahead.

Where were the NBA Finals held at the end of the 2019-2020 season?

According to a plan that the NBA is very seriously considering because of Coronavirus, the answer could well be Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

While on the surface this idea seems extremely far-fetched, if you get down to the details there is actually a lot that makes sense. The problem with the US – as opposed to some other countries that have returned to sports sin home stadiums – is the sheer size of the country, the number of different population centers with very different infection rates, and how lock-down measures are simply different in different places.

That is why the bubble idea that was first mooted by the league at the very start of the pandemic has plenty of merit. Initially, it was Las Vegas that was suggested as a potential site, but that just felt like a recipe for disaster even if the casinos and bars were closed. The ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Disney World Resort, however, is a totally different proposition that could see the premier players of the NBA back on the court as soon as the end of July.

The format of the league is still up in the air. Options range from playing out the league in full to jumping straight into the playoffs with either a regular or expanded field. Fans will not be allowed to sit in the stands and watch the games and the players will be quarantined – and tested frequently – to prevent any outbreaks of the disease from premier players who have been spending the last few months in different regions of the country get together.

This is a part of the country and a facility that is well set up for the unique challenges presented in this climate. The Orlando Invitational Tournament that features NCAA teams has been a fixture of the college basketball tournament scene for a while and Jay Young – the head coach of Fairfield who played in the tournament last season – thinks that this is a proposal that could work.

“It’s a good idea. There is plenty of space and courts. The hotel space down there is as good as you’re going to get in the country. I thought it made a lot of sense, especially if you want to try to keep the players and staff as safe as possible,” Young said.

Basketball feels like it is uniquely set up for a single host site event like this at the professional level. One problem with playing football or soccer in a bubble this way is field space. Basketball courts are able to take plenty of wear and tear that grass specifically just couldn’t sustain. The heavy use of teams training and playing on the same courts each day until the season is concluded is something that works far better on a wooden court than on any other surface in professional sports.

If this plan goes ahead it will be very interesting to see how premier players like LeBron James and Steph Curry react to playing in an environment that is basically a field house/multi-use sports complex. The HP Field House – which would likely serve as the main venue – has around 5,000 (empty) seats. This is obviously very different to an NBA arena which would average around 18,000 seats and which is filled with the history and prestige that comes with being such a venue. These spaces will be smaller and much more intimate, which could make it easier for players but could certainly also affect the way that certain players play the game.

One of the most interesting aspects of this crisis has been to see how sports leagues have adapted and adjusted to getting their premier players back in action. The NBA plan is the most unique out there (so far) and it will be fascinating to see if it is put into action.


Article by Premier Players

Warrick Dunn Still Changing Lives & The World

There are plenty of athletes who make a mark during – or after – their careers with their charitable efforts and their push towards social justice. Charities and foundations are obviously always a good thing, but many of these organizations are related to the athlete by name only.

Then there is Warrick Dunn. A premier player who singlehandedly makes every other past, present, or future NFLer look inadequate with everything he has done. Not just as an athlete – though Dunn was a legitimate star back when running back wasn’t the plug and play position it is today – but as a man.

A native of New Orleans, Louisiana, Dunn played his college football very successfully at Florida State. He rushed for over 1,000 yards for three straight seasons – an impressive mark considering that at about 5-foot-8 and 165 pounds Dunn seemed too small to be an every down back even at the college level. The three-time All-ACC selection was also a sprinter at FSU and his 10.3 time in the 100 meter dash transferred to breakaway speed on the football field that some speedsters are not able to produce.

Dunn was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the 12th overall pick of the 1997 NFL Draft. He was an immediate success, with this premier player winning rookie of the year honors after picking up over 1,400 yards from scrimmage and seven touchdowns. Dunn spent his first five years in Tampa Bay – picking up a pair of Pro Bowl nods – before spending six years in Atlanta with the Falcons. His final year in the NFL (2008) was back where it all began as Dunn signed a one year deal with the Bucs where he rushed for a solid 786 yards.

Dunn rushed for almost 11,000 yards during his career and had picked up over 15,000 yards from scrimmage. He scored 64 touchdowns and he is a much loved figure in both Tampa and Atlanta because of the energy, excitement, and skill that he brought to the two franchises as a player. He was also a player loved by his peers and the media, something that is not always said about the great athletes who tend to be solely focused on winning.

Dunn wanted to win as much as anyone, but he also knew from an early point in his career that he could use his position for good. Something he has never stopped doing.

Dunn’s own mother was an off-duty police officer who was ambushed and killed by armed robbers in 1993. This meant that having just turned 18-years-old, Dunn was now in charge of raising his siblings. This life event could have pushed Dunn in a number of directions, but the premier player knew the value of hard work and success – as his mother had instilled in him – and he wanted to give back.

His first step into the charitable arena was starting Homes for the Holidays in 1997. Dunn then upped his own game in 2002 when he started Warrick Dunn Charities as a way to increase the services that his programs could provide. As of 2020, Dunn’s charities – along with Habitat for Humanity – are closing in on having donated 200 homes to single mothers.

“I’ve used this program as therapy,” Dunn said. “Every time I hand over those keys, there’s a little piece of my mom and the things she wanted.”

The 2004 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award winner, Dunn has received many awards from outside football for his work. He was named the Muhammad Ali Award winner in 2019 – formerly Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year award – showing that long after his football career ended he is still a force driving good in the world.

Wanting to be a person that changes the world is one thing. Actually doing it – and continuing to do it – for almost 25 years is something else entirely. Warrick Dunn is a player that every sports fan should know and celebrate because men of his caliber, premier players of his caliber, don’t come around very often.

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Boxing Brings Heaviest Event To The Ring In 2021

Live sport may still be something of a novelty right now but that hasn’t stopped yet another event being added to a crowded 2021 slate. While we are busy getting our fill of Korean League Baseball, Bundesliga soccer, and NASCAR races with no one in the stands, next year is the one where the premier players will really come out to play. In 2021 we will see – alongside the return of full seasons of the leagues we love – the Olympic Games, the UEFA European Soccer Championships, and the British Lions tour of South Africa to name but a few.

Oh. We will also see a boxing match that is being billed as the ‘Heaviest’ boxing match of all time.

It will be September of next year in Las Vegas, Nevada – the home of all things weird and wonderful – when a pair of former winners of the World’s Strongest Man competition will be throwing haymakers. The participants are 2018 World’s Strongest Man Hafthor Bjornsson taking on 2017 World’s Strongest Man winner Eddie Hall in a bout where the two pugilists will combine to weigh in – barring some weird diets leading up to the contest – at well north of 800 pounds.

Hall, the smaller of the two, stands at 6’3” and weighs 410 pounds. Bjornsson, a mountain of a man, stands at 6’9” and tips the scales in the region of 450 pounds. That mountain moniker is not one without merit either as this premier player was cast as Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane in the epic fantasy series Game of Thrones.

If this contest feels like it came out of nowhere, well that is because it did. It was all triggered in the middle of the Coronavirus crisis when Bjornsson set a new deadlift record by lifting 1,104 pounds in his home gym. Yes. That was 1,104 pounds – not a typo.

“Absolutely no legitimate sport would acknowledge World Records broken out of competition and you are undermining the very sport you are claiming to champion,” Hall wrote on Instagram. “I genuinely look forward to having my record broken and seeing what is possible. I think you are probably the man to do it, there’s no denying that and I’ll still shake your hand afterwards and say well done . . . if you do it under the appropriate conditions.”

This broke a 4-year-old record of 1,102 pounds that was set by Hall. The fact that the record breaker was set in a home gym angered “The Beast” and one quick war of words on Instagram, wheels were set in motion for a match to be announced.

 Bjornsson confirmed as such by revealing the fight poster with the following message on his own Instagram account earlier this week.

“It’s official! September 2021 in Las Vegas Nevada, the Mountain vs the Beast. The next year and a half of my career will be solely dedicated towards this fight. I can’t wait to have my family ringside as I throw down. I’m coming for you.”

The training part of this fight is going to be fascinating. There is no doubt that Bjornsson and Hall are both elite athletes that deserve the premier players tab. It is not possible to compete in strongmen competitions as they do without the right knowledge of nutrition, exercise science, and a personal determination to be the best athlete that they can possibly be.

Training for a boxing match, however, is slightly different. Strongman training is very much an individual pursuit where it is all about bettering yourself. Boxing is a much more tactical sport, one that requires learning a different skillset than anything they will have applied in previous build ups to peak condition. Both men will have the power to slug it out, but it might just be the one who learns a little more ring craft over the next 18 months that comes out on top in what will be a huge event next fall.

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NFL Player Works To Frontline of Covid-19 Pandemic

We have covered the life and career of Kansas City Chiefs’ offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif on this blog before. One of the most well-educated premier players in the history of the NFL, Duvernay-Tardif has a doctorate in medicine degree. When he first achieved this, Duvernay-Tardif was looking at a career post-football that would both support him and his family, but also be something that he could do in the community to help save lives.

Then the Coronavirus came along and Duvernay-Tardif found his calling into the medical profession far sooner than he ever could have imagined.

The Chiefs’ starting right guard is just three months removed from winning Super Bowl LIV on February 2, 2020. To say that feels like a lifetime ago at this point is something of an understatement. Most players get to celebrate winning a championship trophy with an offseason filled with parties, appearances, and get-togethers. While none of the Chiefs have been able to do this due to the virus, Duvernay-Tardif took a very different path – as is his nature – when the Coronavirus struck in his home province of Montreal.

After returning home from a vacation in the Caribbean into an immediate 14-day quarantine, Duvernay-Tardif wanted to help. With the Canadian border closed – meaning he was unable to return to Kansas City – Duvernay-Tardif reached out to the health authority to see how he could help. His degree is currently in a grey area – he hasn’t completed residencies and has no specialization – so his options were a limited as to how this premier player could best be used in the crisis in Canada.

Originally, this premier player was told that his best role in the fight would be to use his position as a celebrity to help spread the message about the importance of social distancing. As the crisis grew, however, he started using his contacts to find a place working on the frontlines in Quebec at a long term healthcare facility in South Shore. His first day back at the hospital was the day after the 2020 NFL Draft where Duvernay-Tardif found he would be blocking for a new running back next year in Clyde Edwards-Helaire.

This is what the premier player had to say about his first day back:

“I felt nervous the night before, but a good nervous, like before a game, and I packed everything neatly: scrubs, white coat, extra pens, even a second pair of shoes that I could leave in my locker, knowing they were clean,” he wrote.

“My shift started at 7:30 a.m. I found out that I would be working for now in more of a nursing role, helping relieve the workers who have already been in place.”

The first day back on the job was draining according to Duvernay-Tardif, but he was already looking forward to getting back into the rhythm of things knowing that he can make a difference to the care of others while using his position in the world of sports to speak about the virus knowing that people will listen.

This likely makes the McGill grad the first NFL player in history to be fighting a pandemic in such a prominent role while also fully expecting to be back on a football field as soon as it is medically safe to do so.

There are a lot of premier players out there doing great things in the world right now. Some of them are working to raise money for various charities, while others are getting even more active by helping out the health services. Duvernay-Tardif is one of them and his is a name that deserves to be recognized.

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Frank Gore Continues NFL Success With Jets

Running backs are supposed to be winding down their career when they hit the age of 30. The list of backs who peaked before hitting three decades of life and either retired or saw their production fall off to the point they were soon out of the NFL includes Hall of Famers such as O.J. Simpson, Earl Campbell, Eric Dickerson, and Marshall Faulk. These are the premier players of premier players, but age caught up to them quickly at one of the most brutal positions in the league.

Someone should probably tell Frank Gore about this because the soon-to-be 37-year-old running back just signed a one-year deal with the New York Jets that will see him embark on his 16th season in the NFL this fall. It is a remarkable achievement.

It needs to be noted, at this point, the game is different now. Gore has been able to survive in the league for as long as he has as a situational back – albeit a very effective one – to change the pace and spell of starters on his teams. This wasn’t a role that existed when the likes of Campbell or Dickerson played. In those days, you ran your bell cow of a back until he was washed up and then brought in the next toy on the production line. Times have definitely changed.

Gore – who was a Round 3 pick of the San Francisco 49ers in 2005 – is currently the third leading rusher in NFL history behind only Emmitt Smith and Walter Payton. This is likely where he will stay as he is currently around 1,400 yards shy of Payton and he hasn’t had a 1,000 rushing season since 2016 in Indianapolis. Le’Veon Bell is the primary back in New York, but Gore will give head coach Adam Gase – a coach he has worked with before – a solid second option on the ground when he is needed.

The last full-time running back to play in the league at 37 was Marcus Allen of the Kansas City Chiefs back in 1997. Gore will bring immense amounts of experience, leadership, and professionalism to the Jets this season, meaning he may be just as valuable to the team in the running backs room as on the field. Anyone that can play to his age is clearly a premier player when it comes to conditioning and doing the right things to be pro football shape. Gore can pass this knowledge on to the next generation in New York.

Speaking of the next generation, Gore’s son – Frank Gore Jr. – will be starting his career collegiately this season at Southern Mississippi. With Gore’s ability to stick around, who is to say the father and son couldn’t be in the NFL together in a few years’ time.

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