You and I both hail from Turlock, California – well, I was actually born there while you were born in Wisconsin and then adopted by a family that later moved to Turlock – but we both spent significant portions of our youth in that Central Valley city in California.
Of course, I was there when it was still a small little town of less than 18,000 and if I recall the numbers correctly there was at least 60,000 living there when your family arrived.
Our career paths have taken us away from Turlock but I like to think we’re still small town kids at heart. Which is why I’m writing you today. I got to interview you at the end of the 2010 college football season, when you were about to lead the University of Nevada against Boston College in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco.
The picture of you in your Nevada uniform is one I took of you coming out onto the field just before kickoff. Your team went on to win that game. But what I took away from the week of that game was how nice a kid you were and I hoped you would become the latest in a storied line of Turlock kids – and the first from Pitman High – to make it in the NFL.
I, like many people in Turlock, were overjoyed when you were drafted by the 49ers and led the team all the way to the Super Bowl. The sky was the limit for you, or so it seemed at the time.
Then you went and lost your damned mind.
For whatever reason, you decided to go full Social Justice Zealot. You’ve joined in with the anti-Police crowd and started this ridiculous trend of kneeling/protesting during the National Anthem.
Now, as perhaps you are realizing that no NFL team will touch you with a 10-foot-pole – especially with viewership down 18% this year against last year’s numbers and sponsors feeling the heat from fans threatening to boycott them for advertising with the NFL – on this day you’ve announced your intention to file a grievance against the 32 NFL owners for “colluding” to keep you out of the NFL.
I’m sorry Colin, but there is no collusion here. Only good common business sense by 32 billionaires that understand if they sign you to their team, their fanbase will be at the team’s offices with tar, feathers, torches, pitchforks and ropes in hand and every single one of them calling for said owner’s head.
There is only one person to blame for your current situation: You.
You called the tune, Colin. Now it’s time to dance to it.
I wish I could support a fellow Turlocker. I recently was given the honor to help write a proclamation honoring the 1957 Turlock High football team that captured the school’s second state championship in football. I also wrote up a recap of that 1957 season that was read to the crowd last week during a ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of that team’s season.
Even though I no longer live in Turlock, I wrote a book about the history of the game played by the town’s high schools and send out tweets during Friday night game’s with trivia related to the schools and their opponents.
Somehow, I doubt very much there will be any such ceremonies regarding your years at Pitman High, other than your inclusion among the list of Turlock players to have made it to the NFL.
You will never be held in the same regard as Paul Larson, (#12 in the photo on the right) who led Turlock to the 1949 state championship, went on to play at Cal and was drafted by the Chicago Cardinals. Bob Mitchell, Jeff Winans, Jonathan Quinn, Jim Fetherston and Tom Brandstater all are well-known and respected names in Turlock. You are definitely in the former, but I wonder about the latter.
You had a nice career, kid. Too bad you threw it away.