Spielman: “How About Doing Things the Right Way”
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — If Chris Spielman was born to play football, then talking about the sport has become a second nature following his career in the National Football League.
Whether it is color commentating for college football games on ESPN, or hosting his own radio talk show in Columbus, Spielman has never been shy about his feelings when it comes to the game he played at the highest level for 11 seasons.
Photo by Jim Davidson
A Pro Bowl linebacker with the Detroit Lions, Spielman also starred for the Buckeyes during a different era of collegiate athletics, but he is not buying the perception that today’s athletes commit violations because they are desperate for the money.
“OK, you're struggling with money. How about this, how about you rent an apartment with four guys, to cut down on your living expenses,” Spielman said Tuesday as a guest on Frank Beckmann's show on WJR-AM 760 in Detroit.
“How about not getting the latest, greatest smart phone. How about not downloading $100 or $50 worth of iTunes. How about going to a discount retailer and getting a coat and a tie and wearing that every week. How about not driving a (nice) car; get a used beater for a thousand bucks.”
The 45-year old Spielman, who is as old-fashioned in his way of thinking about the game as he was with the way he played it, said he would not mind an additional stipend for players.
That is something the Big Ten has recently considered, but that doesn’t change the fact that it was against NCAA rules for Terrelle Pryor, DeVier Posey, Mike Adams, Boom Herron and Solomon Thomas to sell and trade their stuff in exchange for cash or tattoos.
A number of former players—including Ohio State running back Beanie Wells—have since come out against the NCAA for exploiting college athletes by profiting millions of dollars off of their free labor.
Spielman, for one, isn’t buying it.
“How about doing things the right way,” he continued.
“Don't whine to me about money when you're getting free money already (scholarship, living expenses). We'll give you a little extra. But, hey, sacrifice on the clothes, the cars, the electronic toys; and maybe go without a PlayStation or an Xbox for a while, too. See how that works. How about sharing rides? Let's do that instead of thinking that you're owed something.”
That feeling of entitlement among young athletes, especially star players like Pryor or Reggie Bush, may be the single greatest factor contributing to violations like the ones we have seen at USC and Ohio State.
But they are not alone.
“See my problem is we live — and we've got to be careful as parents — in a very narcissistic society because everybody believes they're owed something,” Spielman said.
“Because we have Facebook and all these social networks and everybody thinks they're a freaking star: Let's post pictures online so everyone can see my great accomplishments.”
The problem is not a USC problem or an Ohio State problem. Certainly those two universities did not do enough to monitor the actions of their players. The coaching staff cannot be with 105 players for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but these tattoo hookups having been happening right under their noses for almost a decade.
That may make the coaches just as culpable as the players, but there is little anyone can do to change things unless the players themselves start to change their mentality about being an amateur athlete in a multi-million dollar business.
“So until we get guys to realize it's not about them, it's about the team,” Spielman said.
“And it's OK to suffer a little bit financially while you're in school, and you're going to be better for it. Then kids will make better decisions.”
That might be too much to ask.
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