STILLWATER -- Deion Imade thought that his chance for fulfillment in college football had passed him by when he suffered an torn ACL, but he battled back and switched positions from safety to linebacker and became a full-time contributor on special teams earning the vote of his teammates to captain. Imade was the kind of player that went all out and never left anything on the field. He said he enjoyed his time playing for Mike Gundy and loved his time at Oklahoma State. He backs what the current players are doing, because he has seen racial injustice, racial discomfort, and racial fear in his lifetime.
What is happening is important to him and his generation of young African-Americans in this nation as well as the generations to follow.
When Mike Gundy apologized late Tuesday afternoon, Imade was watching closely.
"The second apology video, the one where he was obviously reading from a teleprompter, and you and I are in this media industry and I've read from a teleprompter and you've read from a teleprompter. Those things are really hard," Imade said of the Tuesday Gundy apology. "People saying that his apology was insincere, I didn't see it that way because I've been in those shoes. I appreciated that Coach Gundy apologized not only to his current players but also to the former players. I appreciate that he acknowledged us in the platform.
"At the end of the day, Coach Gundy wore a shirt that I'm familiar with what that organization preaches day in and day out," Imade continued. "I'm not hear to tell people what they can and can't say, what they where, or what they do, You can do anything you want in this World. But the thing that you have to be ready for is the consequences that come after it. Be it good or bad, you have to be ready for the consequences."
Imade was on my radio show in Stillwater and we finished up the interview with a listener's question. The listener wanted to know how Imade, a former Texas high school player looks at this situation and how he thinks it will effect recruiting. The answer likely wasn't what the listener or many of the other people listening thought it would be. Imade jumped on the question like he used to jump on an opposing kick returner.
"This is what I want to echo to the Oklahoma State family and the Oklahoma State fan base, if I'm a recruit I'm reacting not to how the coaching staff is reacting or how the team is reacting," Imade said setting up the central focus of his answer. "They are good people and I know them, they are going to be positive. I'm paying attention to the Oklahoma State fan base. The fans that I'm going to be in the family with someday, the fans that I'm going to be an alumni with. Some of the things that I'm hearing from the fans and the alumni are very disheartening. You're not doing Mike Gundy any good, the team any good, if you are defending what that shirt represents."
Imade has paid close attention. He said he saw the criticism of Hubbard when he called out the head coach for wearing the shirt. You could hear the frustration working up in his voice.
"If anybody thinks they are going into Boone Pickens Stadium and they are going to boo Chuba Hubbard, boo Mike Gundy, or boo this team then do not come to any football games, basketball games, or any Oklahoma State athletic activities because you're not doing any good. You are going to put this University back 20 years to where recruits are going to say, 'I'm not going there. You cannot be cheering on players to run 90-yards on September 90 degree Saturdays and then on the other hand tell them to shut up and play ball. It doesn't work that way."
Imade finished really passionate. He is working from home the end of this week while the Presidential event and the anniversary of the Greenwood Massacre or the Black Wall Street Massacre are going on.
"Black people are dying, let me say that again, black people are dying," Imade said raising his voice. "I'm working at home today, not because of the pandemic, but because there is going to be a rally in Tulsa and my mom is uncomfortable being in an office that close to where all that chaos will be. I have to work from home to keep my mother from worrying about her son's safety. I don't care who you vote for. You have the right to your own choice, but right is right and wrong is wrong, dying is dying and living is living. Help black people make it home safe."
Imade is not a coward. He is not what I would consider an activist, but Deion Imade is a very concerned member of the African-American race. He has seen a lot and he would like to see less anger and less hate directed at people with his color skin. He would like to see more understanding for people that play and cheer for his shade of orange.