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Surviving in the Shadows of Greatness


Hey everyone, this is new intern T.J. Mulligan, here to talk about a few high school football players and the way the players are handling the pressures placed on them due to other family member’s successes.

Recently, ESPN featured a high school football game between Dwyer High School in Palm Gardens, Fla., and Cleveland Glenville High in Ohio. The game was a nail-biter coming down to the last play of the 4th quarter, but the thing that most people will remember from this game is the gesture that Dwyer High School tight end and grandson of famous golfer Jack Nicklaus, gave the fans as he was leaving the field.

Nick O’Leary is not just the grandson of Jack Nicklaus, but he is also a highly touted recruit who is being sought after by the likes of USF, UCF, Wisconsin and Ohio State to name a few. O’Leary was clearly frustrated after a blown call just cost his team the game, but his “hand gesture” is something that will now affect him and his team for the rest of the season. O’Leary was suspended by the Florida High School Athletic Association for two games and his team has decided to forfeit those two games.

This is obviously going to be a drastic blow to a team that was nationally ranked entering their game against Cleveland Glenville High, but now O’Leary has drawn national attention to himself in the wrong way. Just by being Jack Nicklaus’ grandson, he was already receiving extra media attention, but this is not the type of attention a player of his caliber should be receiving. He was being recruited by some big name schools, but how do those teams now justify signing a player whose major lapse in judgment was seen on national television? O’Leary was making all of the right impressions with his teammates by not letting his name overshadow his talent, but that image is not seen. Most people couldn’t tell you that he had over 100 yards receiving and a touchdown, but everyone remembers what happened after that final whistle blew.

On the other side of the spectrum is Barry James Sanders, son of NFL legend Barry Sanders. Sanders and Heritage Hall knew that he would receive extra media attention because of his dad, but they haven’t let it affect them. In his first game as a 14-year-old freshman, Sanders broke three long runs and immediately burst onto the seen.

This is the way that players should be recognized; for their on-field ability and not for who they’re related to, but unfortunately this is not the way the world works. Sanders goes out and lets his game do the talking instead of his name. Like his father, he plays tough and leaves it all on the field. There is never a time when he draws attention to himself off the field. Unfortunately, players who have celebrity parents or relatives are more closely followed than the average top high school prospect. Therefore one mistake, such as the one by O’Leary, can be felt for quite some time.



Read more at http://varsitynow.blogs.starnewsonline.com




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