This evening was a beautiful one in Baton Rouge and on the way home from dinner my wife decided she wanted to pick up some supplies for her final week of teaching down South. For savings sake, she wanted to stop at a mega store whose exi...
This evening was a beautiful one in Baton Rouge and on the way home from dinner my wife decided she wanted to pick up some supplies for her final week of teaching down South. For savings sake, she wanted to stop at a mega store whose existence makes me want to dive into a dumpster of shattered glass. So I dropped the other two-thirds of my family off at the front door, gave her the keys to the rental car and began my walk back to our apartment.
Crossing a street, I first heard and soon witnessed a widish man, probably sixty, with a large white-snow Santa beard and button-down denim shirt nearly as old as his vast Arctic chin fur. His ankle socks rose to meet his voice and he was enthusiastically speaking with two young men about 10 feet from him in the parking lot of this Sam’s Club.
The two men were clearly athletes, tall and trim, and one made the horrible mistake of wearing a school-issued LSU tank top for this afternoon of bulk shopping with his pal, who plays football for LSU and bore a striking resemblance to star quarterback Zach Mettenberger. The only reason I won’t say it was the future NFL pick is that I’m not super well-versed in recognizing Tiger gridders my only LSU reporting down here involved covering the men’s hoops squad. Plus, scanning the roster headshots at LSUSports.net, nearly half the brunette caucasian players on the team are rocking some form of the unfortunate Bieb-over haircut the international teen mega star ditched a while ago.
In any event, these two athletes were very especially polite with the man, a big LSU football fan who was passing alon impressions on the SEC while asking who they open with (if you have a pulse down here you know it’s TCU in Arlington despite the fact that the game is 3.5 months away). So obviously, this fella’s not a crazy expert but the same young man who made the mistake of wearing his LSU tank top to a SAM’S CLUB while hanging out with the on-field face of the team then answered a question about his background. He said he’s from near College Station, Texas, which lead to this denim-sporting Santa explaining why Johnny Football is so hard to stop. Oh, boy, it’s so hard for the safeties and linebackers to get a read on where Manziel may go with the ball.
Meanwhile I walk by coincidentally (of course) wearing a gold “Geaux Tigers” tee shirt my wife bought me at the airport. By the time I reach the end of the parking lot and enter the next one — approximately 100 yards away — I can still hear some sort of Santa sermon on stopping the Heisman winner. Keep in mind, LSU BEAT Manziel at Texas A&M last year, 24-19.
Anyway, this is one 5-minute stretch. Five minutes, tops. The only five minutes I’ve ever been a part of these two young men’s life. And while there’s nothing particularly offensive about Santa and his summer near the swamps of Louisiana, it’s just another reason these kids deserve their scholarships for more than their football skills. These kids — plenty of whom screw-up, even recently, on Les Miles’ watch — are always on alert. They are the most popular people in the state not named Drew Brees or the Robinson family and they are never off the clock. After all, the trade-off between their “free” educations and the money LSU makes off their bodies is at-best even for the state.