NFL execs are reportedly grumbling about Josh Rosen’s interests off the field.
SI honored J.J. Watt as its 2017 Sportsperson of the Year in recognition of his tremendous efforts fundraising for hurricane relief. Watt thinks other NFL players should feel free to follow in his footsteps.
Sportswriter Dave Zirin tweeted and (subsequently deleted) a partially inaccurate quote from The Ringer contributor and former NFL GM Michael Lombardi about outspoken quarterback prospect Josh Rosen and his interest in matters beyond the football field.
“He has to decide whether he wants to be a humanitarian or a football player,” Zirin quoted Lombardi as said. “Why?” Zirin asked.
That didn’t sit well with Watt, who likened the sentiment to Fox News’ Laura Ingraham telling LeBron James and Kevin Durant to “shut up and dribble.”
This is just as dumb as the “shut up and dribble” comment. Right or wrong, athletes are some of the most recognizable people in this country. That is an extremely powerful platform that so many use to do great things in their community. Who wouldn’t want that? #MoreThanAnAthlete https://t.co/wDKcj341n8— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) March 7, 2018
Zirin later acknowledged that, even though he used quotation marks, he was paraphrasing from Lombardi’s Ringer podcast with Tate Frazier on Monday. (Ringer editor in chief Bill Simmons called out Zirin for misrepresenting what Lombardi said.)
Here’s what Lombardi actually said about Rosen: “He’s coming back saying he loves football. I’ve talked to some people [who say] he might like humanitarian work more than football. I don’t know. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I don’t know where his values really lie.”
Regardless of whether Lombardi is expressing concern himself or merely parroting what he’s heard from others, there certainly are people in the NFL questioning whether Rosen’s focus on football is myopic enough. Peter King summarized the laundry list of criticisms he’d heard about Rosen from around the league in his MMQB column on Monday.
“Football isn’t that important to him, because he’s a rich kid whose mom is the great-great-granddaughter of the founder of Penn’s prestigious Wharton School of Business, and whose dad is a renowned spinal surgeon, and who once put a hot tub in his college bedroom,” King wrote. “Rich kids can’t have the same drive as lower-middle-class kids.”
You know who’s another rich kid with a passion for social justice and now two Super Bowl rings? Chris Long. Sometimes it’s OK to be passionate about things other than your job.