Former West Virginia and current St. Louis Rams receiver Tavon Austin recently said that he can't believe how many people are crawling out of the woodwork asking for money now that he's set up as the eighth-selected player in the 2013 NFL draft. "Everybody wants to be around you," Austin told the Rams' official website. "My phone doesn’t stop ringing now. It feels like they’re counting my bank account now. So that’s probably the hardest thing for me."
If Austin wants to know how tough it can really get, he should talk to Dallas Cowboys left tackle Tyron Smith, who was selected with the ninth pick in the 2011 draft out of USC. Smith signed a four-year, $12.5 million deal and went about becoming one of the best young blockers in the game. Considering what he was going through, it's amazing that Smith would be able to get his head together enough to find the field at all. As he recently told the Dallas Morning News, Smith agreed to pay his stepfather, Roy Pinkney, and his mother, Frankie Pinkney, a substantial sum of money in four installments to insure that they would want for nothing. But that wasn't good enough for the Pinkneys, or some of Smith's own siblings.
“There was a certain amount I agreed to give them, but it went way beyond that and I was just like, ‘I’m done,’” Smith said. “I feel like I shouldn’t have given them so much. There was nothing wrong with helping them out and making sure they were taken care of, but not something to where they live the same lifestyle as you.”
According to the Morning News story (and as we recalled on Shutdown Corner at the time), things got a lot worse when Smith tried to set some boundaries.
Last October, John Schorsch — Smith’s Dallas-based attorney at the time — said Smith’s “mom and/or the stepdad threatened the physical well-being of Tyron and the life of his girlfriend.” Smith filed a protective order against his parents last summer to keep them from having any contact with him. The order also prohibits contact from Smith’s parents through his siblings. During training camp last year in Oxnard, Calif., one of Smith’s brothers whom he said he hadn’t talked to “in a long time” showed up and had to be removed from the facility.
Six months ago, his attorney said, Smith discovered that his family had taken more than $1 million from him. “There was money missing, but I just don’t know where it went,” Smith said in the report. “There were times I would check my statements and it wouldn’t make sense and I hadn’t authorized it at all. I just felt betrayed and I was like, ‘Who can I trust?’”
Smith had been using a financial advisor recommended by his parents.
And last season, when Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett told Smith that he'd be moving from right to left tackle, he texted his family to share the good news. Of course, since left tackles generally make a lot more in their second NFL contracts than do right tackles, you can guess where their focus was.
“They were already looking forward to the next contract, talking about things they wanted to get already,” Smith said. “I was like I haven’t even got there and there’s not even a sure thing that I will. And that was all that was coming out of their mouth.”
As the report indicates, Smith is a good kid with the right attitude ... but there's only so much one can do. He hopes to reconcile with his family someday, but things will obviously have to change on the other end, and it's fair to wonder if his family isn't beyond hope.
“If all the incidents stop,” Smith said about what it would take for that reconciliation to happen, “and they just give me the space that I’ve asked for.
"The takeaway from this is don’t let people take advantage of you. And it’s all right to say no to certain people.”
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While the hullabaloo surrounding Tim Tebow's continued football unemployment seems to far exceed his actual NFL prospects at this point (we pretty much stopped paying attention when the Omaha Beef became involved), there's now one possible opportunity for the former first-round pick of the Denver Broncos and recent New York Jets cast-off. Former NFL quarterback and current ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski, who does the "NFL Matchup" show with our good buddy Greg Cosell, also co-owns the Philadelphia Soul Arena League team. And Jaws has reached out to Tebow with an interesting offer: Come play for my team, get your mechanics in order, and see where you can go from there.
"If Tim Tebow decides he wants to play in the Arena Football League, I'd love to have him on the Philadelphia Soul," Jaworski told Philly.com. "I haven't heard back from him and I'm not going to push it. If he decides he wants to play Arena Football, we'll make a spot for him."
Most people in sub-leagues want Tebow for the name recognition alone, but Jaworski is far more serious about the football aspects of a Tebow signing, if such a thing could happen. Jaws and Soul head coach Clint Dolezel went to the trouble of sending Tebow a list of plays in which he could be featured. Most were red zone plays, and at this point in time, Dan Raudabaugh would be the team's starting quarterback.
But Jaws, who has forgotten more about quarterback play than most of us will ever know, is serious about the faster-paced arena game working wonders with Tebow's iffy passing mechanics.
"One [criticism] of Tebow is that he is slow and methodical," Jaworski said. "He would be forced to quicken it up in this league and it would be good training for him. You can learn a lot in this league. It's about processing information and getting the ball out ... or you get whacked."
Kurt Warner could attest to that. Warner came out of Northern Iowa as an undrafted nobody in the early 1990s, washed out with the Green Bay Packers, and eventually landed with the Iowa Barnstormers of the Arena League. From 1995 through 1997, he refined his game in the high-paced arena game, and he's said many times since that it allowed him to process information at a much faster tick. This, of course, helped him immeasurably when he joined the St. Louis Rams in 1998 and eventually became the leader of the Rams' "Greatest Show on Turf" offense. Warner went on to throw for more than 32,000 yards and over 200 touchdowns in his NFL career.
Tebow may not have that level of nascent talent, but then again, who knows? If he's really looking to get back in the NFL at a level that will allow people to take him seriously, the combination of Jaworski's football acumen, and a style of game that would force him to clean a few things up, might be his best shot.
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