No one really likes people who ride the fence. It seems like the world is becoming more black and white than ever before, with no room for gray areas in between.
But after looking at this DeMarcus Lawrence situation, and having the chance to know him somewhat off the field, I think this is one that has a few shades of gray, if you will.
By now, I would assume most people have seen the video of ‘D-Law’ walking in the parking lot following Sunday’s win over the Giants when a young fan wearing a Giants’ Saquon Barkley jersey approaches him, calls him by name, and asks for an autograph.
Lawrence, who is in full power-walk mode, accompanied by what looked like some security, not only didn’t sign for the fan, but then said, “Get the right jersey, son.”
Certainly not the first time a player has passed on an autograph seeker. It’s happened for decades. It just gets captured on video more and more these days.
OK, here’s my take on that: Clearly, he wasn’t going to sign autographs at all. He was leaving the stadium and wasn’t going to stop for anyone. He knows if he does, then he probably gets stopped for 50-100. So his mindset seemed like he wasn’t stopping at all.
Now, the minute he mentioned the jersey, I think the entire situation goes to another level. Trust me when I say that I’ve seen some of the all-time fan favorites do things over the years to avoid signing autographs. I had a Hall of Famer ask to grab my own suitcase as he walked into a hotel so he could have both hands full and couldn’t sign. I had a Pro Bowler this year who asked me to do an interview with him on the field so he could avoid autograph seekers at training camp.
It happens. We get it. However, most of them either come up with a reason or just act like they didn’t see it.
When Lawrence said it was because he had the “wrong” jersey on, it’s a different story.
Personally, I wish he wouldn’t have done that, mainly because of the backlash that he is taking from this. I can say that I know him probably a little better than the average fan, and I know that he not only loves the fans, but he loves kids.
I actually followed his group last December on what I call the “best/worst” day of the year when we go to the annual hospital visits. Some players just do the drill, put on the Santa hat with their jersey, and go into the rooms and smile and take pictures. D-Law goes to another level, not only asking them what they want for Christmas, but he was writing the requests down on paper with their names. And I actually followed up to see what he ended up doing, and it turned out that D-Law made sure all of the kids he visited that day got their Christmas presents from him.
So any notion that he is this “savage” who doesn’t care about kids is wrong. I’ve seen the guy at Chucky-Cheese on not one, but two occasions. (Yes, I know that means I must be a regular as well).
And just Tuesday night, on his day off, Lawrence had a community bowling event in Frisco where he helped nearly 100 kids.
So just wanted to share those stories about the side of D-Law that I’ve seen.
But I will say this – and it goes back to the whole “gray area” part of the story – Lawrence needs to think about what type of role he really wants to have in the sports world.
There are really good players, and he is one of them. There are regular NFL Pro Bowlers, and he is one of them now. But then there are elite superstars who actually go beyond the sport. We’ve got some real iconic, global players who are on a different level.
And those guys are the ones people pay to see. Just look at the NBA. You probably have a dad who is a Dallas Mavericks fan but his son wants to go to the Warriors to get Steph Curry’s autograph. I’m sure all of those “oohs” and “ahhs” on LeBron James’ dunks aren’t just from Lakers fans. Same with guys like Odell Beckham Jr., Patrick Mahomes and probably Barkley. I wouldn’t be surprised if that kid was just a fan of the Giants because of Barkley.
I’ve seen J.J. Watt play catch before games with the entire front row of the stands, throwing the ball back and forth to anyone and everyone – regardless of the jersey. And yes, I’d put him in that category as well.
Now, that status isn’t for everyone. Maybe that’s not a level D-Law wants or even cares to reach. But I assume that most of the players want it. But to get there, it takes a level of consistency with the fans, regardless what they’re wearing.
At the end of the day, DeMarcus Lawrence is one of the best all-around guys on this team. He’s not just a great player, but he’s a great person off the field. I think he prides himself on being a “real” person.
The sad part is that little clip that most of the world saw doesn’t really portray who he is.