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The person underneath the jersey

May 3rd, 2007

Brady Quinn. JaMarcus Russell. Adrian Peterson.
Now, if you have never heard anyone mention these names in the past few months, I wonder where you have been hiding. All three were top picks in the NFL draft. Quinn came from Notre Dame, Russell from Louisiana State University and Peterson from Oklahoma. Quinn and Russell are both quarterbacks, while Peterson is a running back.
Ever since the National Championship game ended back in January, talk about the NFL draft has been prevalent in many conversations. Should the Browns have brought Quinn, a Columbus native, back to Ohio? How severe was Peterson’s collarbone injury? All of these questions were asked, and of course, they were all answered.
Soon the football draft focus will be turned on the baseball world for its draft and right after that, basketball. But in the shuffle of all this, people forget about one key thing. They forget that the Adrian Petersons, Brady Quinns, and JaMarcus Russells are people as well.
When I was little, I will admit, I treated athletes with a higher degree of respect. My friend’s brother was a football and basketball standout in high school. I can still remember the awe I felt when I was around him.
He later received a scholarship to play football at a Division I-AA school. When that happened, I was even more impressed. I thought, “Wow, he is a college athlete. That’s pretty neat, he’s like the guys my dad watches every weekend on TV.” As my friend’s brother went through school, I became more hooked on college sports. Craig Krenzel at Ohio State seemed to be the perfect quarterback. I thought J.J. Redick was a basketball guru. And then-freshman quarterback Brady Quinn seemed to be the perfect answer to all of Notre Dame’s offensive problems. But, looking back on it, I only identified these people as “athletes.” I didn’t see who they really were, or what other potential they had.
My friend’s brother went on to graduate with a degree in Economics. Although he never made the jump to the NFL, he has made the jump into the real world, where he has found a stable and successful job. Look at our own John Carroll athletes. Most of you are probably friends with someone who plays a sport.
Just like the athletes we watch on TV, they have classes to take, tests to study for and internships to complete. I know that when we watch college sports on TV none of us are thinking about the business classes or types of degrees these athletes will be earning. But, perhaps we can remember that behind the athlete, there is a student, and behind the student is a person who is not too different from you and me.