This happened a couple of weeks ago, but it’s been eating at me so I’m going to write about it.
You may not know of it. I didn’t other than on Twitter where InsideCarolina tweeted this on Sept. 18:
“Every member of the #UNC football team donated his weekly per diem to buy goods for @kev_red52’s efforts to provide supplies to his hometown of New Bern. #HurricaneFlorence.”
@kev_red52 is Kevin Riddick, a former North Carolina and NFL linebacker who played for six NFL teams including the Panthers. He played his high school ball in New Bern, one of the areas hit hardest by Hurricane Florence.
But that’s not what this is about.
Four-hundred and 18 people retweeted InsideCarolina’s tweet and over 1,300 have liked it, but that’s the only mention I’ve heard about it.
In it of itself, that’s not so bad. There are all sorts of people — and teams, probably — that are still helping the hurricane recovery and not making news. And the news cycle was busy with hurricane stuff when this happened.
So I get that.
But this is such a double standard, and especially so for 13 North Carolina players.
Brian Anderson, Malik Carney, Beau Corrales, Tomon Fox, Tyrone Hopper, Quiroz Johnson, Malik Robinson, Chazz Surratt, Jordan Tucker, Greg Ross, Tre Shaw and Jack Davidson deserve an explanation.
Those are the 13 players who were suspended for up to four games for selling team-issued Jordan brand shoes back in August.
Some of the shoes reportedly fetched over $1,300.
I consider myself to be a man of morals and character, but if someone offered me $13 for the shoes on my feet right now I’d at least strongly consider it.
When I was of college age, it would have been a done deal no questions asked.
They probably didn’t really want the sneakers in the first place. When they found out they could make a little money for them, they did it.
I don’t see anything wrong with it. But they were blasted in the media for it.
You didn’t hear a thing about this, though.
Davidson is a former Myers Park quarterback, but I didn’t get to cover Davidson, so I can’t speak for his character, but I trust Mustang coach Scott Chadwick and he has spoken highly of Davidson in my presence.
I can vouch for Surratt, who was the Tar Heels starting quarterback last season as a freshman, and who I do know and know pretty well.
He starred at East Lincoln High School in Denver where I worked for nearly three years. I covered Surratt and his younger brother, Sage.
They were big time.
It’s probably much the same way Sun Valley quarterback Sam Howell feels at times in Indian Trail, but this was on a broader scope.
They both broke long-standing NCHSAA records held by the best players from the best Independence teams from the 2000s.
Chazz Surratt was the Parade Magazine National Football Player of the Year and the AP Player of the Year. Sage, now a receiver at Wake Forest, was the AP Player of the Year in basketball, where he averaged over 35 points per game during his senior season, and in football, where he shattered all of the state’s receiving records.
They won one state title in football together and probably would have another had Chazz not injured his shoulder during his senior year. They also led East Lincoln to the 2A basketball final in consecutive seasons, losing each time in heartbreaking fashion.
They were recognized everywhere they went in Denver, but you’d never know it.
Of the athletes I’ve covered, and there’s a long list of guys I’ve come to respect and admire, these two are at the very top of my list of favorites.
Not only were they star athletes, Chazz was fifth in his graduating class. Sage, who transferred to Lincolnton for his senior season, was the valedictorian.
They were both “yes sir” and “no sir” kids. Their teammates and coaches never had a bad word to say, and that seems to be the case to this day.
But Chazz, Davidson and their 11 other teammates were buried in the press for selling some shoes they didn’t want or need. Yet nobody says a word when they did great things to help people they’ve never seen before.
I know life’s not fair, but this isn’t either.