Down on Dez

Written by Kyle Porter

NCAA Football: Oklahoma State at TexasPhoto Attribution: US Presswire

by: Kyle Porter

I can’t remember the time I stopped looking up to athletes[1. The lone exception, obviously, being Tebow, who is probably the only professional or collegiate competitor that could legitimately do anything off the field that would leave me bummed out on a personal level.] but I’m pretty sure it was between high school and the first party in college.

It was probably at the first party I went to in college.

It is a fruitless endeavor, idolizing people you’ll never meet and yet we all probably do it. It’s hard not to sometimes.

You meet these guys (the players of these games) at various points in your life and you realize that most of them could care less about you, the fan, even though the ones who actually do care about you, the fan, make the whole thing worth it.

And then you’re confused all over again.

I’ve written before that we should root and cheer and be fans because of other fans, not because of anything the players can or will (or can’t or won’t) give us[2. Watching KD shoot bombs tests this notion at an extremely deep level of my soul, on some road between the sublime and the spiritual. I’m still working it out, I think.].

I mean, we’ve all been watching this Penn State thing right?

And yet I can’t help but have certain feelings about certain people. That isn’t a wrong thing, I don’t believe, if it’s even still possible to separate what happens on the field from who happens on the field, or something like that.

Dez was one of those people who, when I was in college, made me feel stupid, dreamy things about my own life. That I could someday be a great writer or be really successful at business or one of the many void-of-pessimism things college sophomores think.

When he was standing with his shadow pointed towards the basketball arena as 45,000 silent orange-clad patrons stared at him in the silent moments before everything exploded into a billion decibles and your feet went numb.

Well, those were moments.

And so the last few weeks, really the last few years, have made me a little bit sad. Not because I expected or needed anything from him, but because I wanted him to step into the dreams he created for other people.

It’s an overstated opinion that these people (athletes) are given everything and that it shouldn’t be that difficult to not screw it all up (and it shouldn’t). But as it goes with some people, there’s a lot going on with Dez. A lot that he grew up with and a lot of perception that you didn’t grow up with and you didn’t deal with.

I’m not making excuses for him – don’t put yourself in a position where “he hit his mom in the face” is even a fathomable accusation – only saying that I’m a bit melancholy about the whole thing.

He was, and probably is, one of my five favorite athletes to ever come through Stillwater. A prodigious talent of proportions that you had to see in person to understand[3. And even then you didn’t fully fathom them.].

He had, and still could have, everything he possibly wants.

I just hope it doesn’t remain a thing of my dreams.

  • ChanceDM

    I’ve felt a similar thing about Blackmon.  To me, Blackmon was the non-diva who, yes, he had talent, but he was not so highly recruited and he worked his butt off to get where he was.  In that sense I identified with him (not in an athletic sense but in other ways).  Moreover, he came from a stable family and seemed to have everything together.  So, I was very disappointed with this last arrest. 
    My point is, although with a different athlete, I understand what you are feeling.  Both had qualities that are very admirable and make them spectacular athletes.

  • CBP97

    It is so hard to see these men with incredible talent, go and do something totally brainless and essentially shoot themselves in the foot. I don’t know that I ever idolized any of them, I mean, really, I’m a chick. But some of these athletes that have elevated OSU and made me even more proud to be a former student and fan of the Cowboys. And like you said, we want them to live up to their capabilities. With God-given talent and skills like Blackmon, Bryant, and the one and only Barry Sanders, we want them to go on to the big time and make us believe in the fairy tale. When Blackmon got arrested, I just felt really let down, if that even makes any sense. A person who can do really what he wants and goes and does something like that, . And I’m sorry, there is never, NEVER any excuse for a man to hit a woman in the face, and his mother, that’s double bad in my book. He’s probably glad the cops took him away cause his mama gonna beat his ass next time she sees him. Or at least she should anyway.

  • PokelahomaCRFF

    Only a hypothetical here, If he walked in on his mom smoking crack after all shes done and all the money he has spent on her could we at least maybe understand a little? Myself in Dez’s shoes with Dez’s mom I have to admit I couldn’t completely rule it out in some scenarios.

  • Grant

    In Edward Gibbons tome-y book “The Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire” his conclusion was that 700+ years of the empire was lost when the people no longer respected the government and began to worship the actors & athletes…..hmmm  sounds like now.

    • Pistols Guy

      I never thought we’d have a Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire reference on PFB. I love it.

  • tomg

    The ironic part of Dez is that if his background wasn’t an issue and his grades weren’t a concern then he might never have landed in Stillwater.  OSU needed a player like Dez to raise the stature of the progam and he needed a place to shine.  Both worked hard at finding a middle ground that could work for both.  In hindsight, Dez make remarkable strides until he got tangled with Prime Time and others that don’t always have the best interest for the student athlete in mind.  The idealist visions we all shared in college give way to the dog eat dog world that surround Dez and the rest of us these days.  The further you climb the ladder the farther the fall if you lose your footing.  I find it hard to condemn him for his actions and not praise him for not walking away from his mother.  I am glad that my life has been much simpler and fill with people who don’t see me as a potential meal ticket.